Oloni talks the do’s, the don’ts & how to protect yourself
’Sexting’ is exactly what it sounds like, sending sexual content via text and it has been going on since the beginning of time…kind of. We’ve always shared sexually explicit material whether it be in the form of sketches, paintings, literature, photographs, and videos. And thanks to the digital age, it’s a lot faster now and it’s all at the click of a button (or the tap of your touchscreen, as buttons apparently old school now).
Let’s face it, we all experience peer pressure at some point in life whether it be pressure to have our first drink or send our first sext. And since the creation of the smartphone, and the ‘capture the moment’ Snapchat-esque world we live in, we can easily share and access content digitally, which can have some serious consequences. I spoke to Sex & Relationship Blogger Oloni & the NSPCC to find out why young teens are sexting, the risks and how you can protect yourself.
“Sex has become glamourized in today’s society and there is a pressure on young people to get involved in sexual activities earlier.”
ONY: What is the appeal for young people to sext?
OLONI: Sex has become glamourized in today’s society and there is a pressure on young people to get involved in sexual activities earlier. Young people are fascinated by sex and because it’s not always freely spoken about, they start to explore in their own ways and sexting is an easy way in. There’s so much sexualization on social media with celebrities and influencers, this could also be an encouraging factor.
ONY: What are the relevant statistics when it comes to sexting (in regards to young people) in the UK?
NSPCC: Childline provided 1,392 counseling sessions about sexting in 2015/16 – a rise of 15% on the previous year. In the same period the Childline webpage on sexting received over 180,000 page views.
ONY: Do you think the younger generation is more sexualized than generations before and if so why?
OLONI: Yes, and I would blame this on the easy access to pornography, when I was younger it was there, it was spoken about in whispers but it was on the top shelf. Now we’re literally a swipe away from meeting someone on Tinder, or a Google away from searching for the raunchiest thing online and because it’s just a click away more young people (and people in general) are intrigued by it. I personally didn’t have half the access that young people do now.
“When I was younger … [porn]… was there; it was spoken about in whispers but it was on the top shelf.”
ONY: So what do you actually think about sexting?
OLONI: I think that sexting can be fun, it can be creative and I see it as early foreplay… I think sexting itself has evolved because now, we aren’t only using words to describe what we’d like to do to each other — with the new age of social media you can use apps like Snapchat and send things that are a bit more risqué. It can be very healthy for couples and especially those who enjoy feeling liberated by their sexuality.
ONY: The media often paints sexting in a negative light, what are benefits of sexting for sexual partners?
OLONI: When used between two consenting people sexting can provide intimacy, it can help you to feel comfortable with your partner and allow you to tell them freely what you are into. It’s a sex positive way of communicating with someone that you are sexually involved with. I personally don’t think it should be frowned upon because if you are both adults and you’re sexually comfortable with this person, you should be able to say exactly what you are thinking within your own privacy. When your sexting you’re only sending a message to each other’s phone; it’s not like you are writing on your partner’s wall on Facebook or sending them a tweet.
“When used between two consenting people sexting can provide intimacy.”
ONY: As with most things in life, sexting is all well and good when you and the other person are on good terms, but can often go south when you fall out. Some people end up being blackmailed or their private messages being shared around. What advice would you give anyone that is facing a similar situation?
OLONI: If it’s just an exchange of words that has been shared then I would say not to worry about it. If it has been posted online and you can be identified through the post, you can always block somebody who is bothering you and report the post. You’ve done nothing wrong at the end of the day; you were with someone you trusted.
However, if it is something whereby it’s an exchange of pictures, then I would say: tell someone that you trust immediately, report it to the police, and get as much evidence as you can of the person. Blackmail is a crime. Sharing explicit pictures or footage of somebody without their consent is also a crime and it’s called Revenge Porn.
NSPCC: It’s important for young people to remember that when they share a self-generated image they lose control of where it can be sent and who can view the image and can lead to them being bullied by peers or coerced into sending more images. It can seem awkward but if a young person is being blackmailed, it is important that they tell someone, such as a teacher or parent. Blackmail is a crime and can be reported to the police. If a young person is under the age of 18 and finds out there has been an explicit image of themselves posted on a social network they can report it to the network. Take a look at childline.org.uk/sexting for more information.
ONY: Many young people don’t know their legal rights when it comes to pictures being shared without their consent; what is the legislation around this area?
NSPCC: It is a crime to make or share indecent photographs of any person below the age of 18 – this law applies to young people taking or sharing images of themselves or other children.
“Blackmail is a crime and can be reported to the police.”
The Home Office has been working to change the crime recording code around sexting and under 18s; and has introduced what’s known as Outcome 21. This gives police the discretion to take no further action, where it isn’t in the public interest to do so.
ONY: Sexting seems to have become part of modern day sex; what should schools, the government and parents being doing to educate and protect young people?
OLONI: It would be smart for parents to have a conversation with their children whilst they are young; they don’t need to go into detail but to basically pinpoint the whole subject of trust and the fact that not everybody is trustworthy. I think this is true for schools as well, sexting and e-safety should really come into sex education … when I was in school sex education was about one thing ‘you’re going to die if you have sex because you will catch something’ – that wasn’t valid then and even more so now in this world that we are living in with pop culture and social media there’s so many aspects to it.
“Sexting and e-safety should really come into sex education …”
The other day I saw a billboard near where I live and it was by the council it said something along the lines of ‘if he’s blackmailing you into sending you nudes or he’s making you uncomfortable, then he doesn’t like you and he doesn’t love you.’ I thought that was such a good thing and that was coming from the council; we need to see more of this.
ONY: Lastly, how can young people protect themselves if they choose to take part in sexting?
OLONI: Be safe! You can’t trust everyone sadly and as some say ‘no face no case’.
Oloni is an award winning sex & relationships blogger and influencer. She gives dating advice to women all over the world. Simply Oloni was created in 2008 to discuss relationships, fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. The ‘Ask Oloni’ column gives readers the chance to submit sex and relationship questions anonymously, which are answered by Oloni and sometimes featured in a full-length article to help others.
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity in the UK, specialising in child protection and dedicated to the fight for every childhood. They are the only UK children’s charity with statutory powers meaning they can take action to safeguard children at risk of abuse.
If you (or anyone you know) has been affected by sexting or would like to know more, we would love to hear from you tweet us at @MTVStayingAlive or alternatively email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.