How did we wind up here? I’m talking about our children’s vulnerability in using digital means for sexual purposes. In an AP survey publicised by CBS today, 30% of 14 to 24 year olds admit to sending and/or receiving so-called ‘sexts’ (i.e. nude pictures of themselves or someone else). Furthermore, 3% of all respondents have sent images to people they have never met in person. It’s shocking to acknowledge that there have been cases of suicide amongst young people who’ve sent images and been taunted beyond their capacity to cope. This is a huge issue in its scope and a devastating one in its ability to destroy lives. We simply do not respect one another’s human dignity if we shrug our shoulders and walk past on the other side of the street like the priest or Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan. Children are being damaged each and every day by this practise whether they know it or not. There is an urgent need for a new spirit of guardianship amongst the legislators and digital community.
We need to get education out into our churches and schools about managing our online selves and the dangers of interacting with strangers. We should be promoting the use of websites and tools that keep us all up to date with the latest challenges of webuse. Try this one. And we must start lobbying authorities for better safeguards and more resources for investigating agencies. Internet and mobile phone technology have great capacity for good but it seems that our silence on its misuse is having appalling consequences for many vulnerable young people in society.