The ways that today’s youth encounter problems pertaining to their internet behavior and sexuality continue to grow. An increasingly common problem facing teens includes cyberbullying in the form of “revenge porn”. “Revenge porn” as many are now referring to it, is the act of publishing online explicit photos, videos and contact information of a person without his or her consent. Often, this is done by former boyfriends or girlfriends out of anger or spite because of a nasty break-up. Numerous websites now offer revenge porn and unsuspecting individuals most intimate images can be viewed by users of the site.
Certainly there are problems on both ends here. “Selfies” and revenge porn are often connected as most images that become revenge porn started out as “selfies”. One recent expert indicted four out of five cases of revenge porn are photos taken by the victim themselves. The sender of the photo may initially view the receiver as a friend at the time, but as is the case with most teen relationships, the relationship is short-lived and then the photo can be used for anything that the receiver chooses to do with it including sharing it in social media or posting to a revenge porn site. What motivates a teen to send a pornographic selfie knowing what could potentially occur with the photo? Do they simply not think through the decision? Are they so insecure and needy that they are willing to risk anything for superficial connection or acceptance? Is sexuality so casual and meaningless to today’s youth that this act is simply viewed as part of courting?
What is it that motivates a teen to cyberbully and exploit in this manner? Do they have any empathy for the victim and could they possibly understand the permanent damage done by this action? Is their capacity to deal with the negative emotions that stem from rejection, jealousy or anger so undeveloped that they impulsively move into a mindset of revenge? Have today’s teens become so hedonistic and selfish in their mindset that they have no regard for other’s well-being?
This phenomena is a prime example of just how far our decency as a society has deteriorated. California and New Jersey have passed laws banning the practice. These laws are creating debates about First Amendment rights and free speech. it’s a highly sensitive topic and a lot of “unknowns” exists about how to deal with this as a free society. What is certain is that we need to do a much better job of teaching our children to respect one another and to use technology wisely.
STAR Guides wilderness is a program that has been specifically designed to provide parents and teens with a place explore these problems. “Navigation to Healthy Sexuality” is our mission and more than ever before today’s youth need direction and guidance for finding healthy sexuality. Pornography, cyber-sex, deteriorating moral values and lack of regard for others contribute to a distorted view of healthy sexuality. If you are a parent of a teen or young adult who is struggling with wreckless or out of control on-line cyber-sexual behavior, STAR Guides can help. Call us today 800-584-4629.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.