Before modern technology became part of our life, conversation and gestures were basic ways of flirting between men and women. Nowadays, both teenagers and adults have found a more sensual way of expressing their interest in another person, called “sexting”, which consists of sending photos, videos or messages with sexually explicit content, generally produced by the sender themselves, by means of mobile phones. This dangerous practice increases the risk of uncontrolled massive dissemination of such contents.
Sexting victims usually conceal the problem from their parents and teachers. This is why it is important to pay attention to what happens to our children. Besides, there are a number of signs that can help us identify sextortion:
- Mood changes. If you notice that your son or daughter is sadder than usual and for longer than usual without any apparent cause, you must talk to him / her in order to find out whether this is due to sextortion.
- They have broken up with their partner (boyfriend / girlfriend) and their emotional behaviour goes beyond tears or despair; they feel fear, grief, shame, worry and guilt.
- They refuse to go to school. They suddenly refuse to go to school, to go out with their friends, they pretend to be ill in order to stay at home or object nonsensically.
- Their behaviour changes. They are fearful, nervous, distracted or evasive and unable to explain why.
- Isolation: they refuse to go to meetings or group activities, they tend to lock themselves in their room and communicate less.
- Psychosomatic symptoms as a result of fear and nervousness: nightmares, disturbed sleep, gastrointestinal disorders, lack of appetite, crying, general anxiety disorder, panic attacks, headache, tics, dizziness and weight loss.
If one or more of the symptoms mentioned above are present in your children, it does not necessarily mean that they are subject to sextortion, but you must talk to them and see what is happening. Although it is not always easy to talk to teenagers because of their constant mood changes and their need for autonomy, the parents who notice one or more of these signs should not stop looking for their cause. If necessary, they should also talk to their friends in order to see if they know what is happening to their son or daughter.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.