Friday, May 13, 2016

"Wait, Worry and Wonder"

Yesterday John Gray's Fade to Gray column, Social Nightmare, covered an important issue affecting teens, the devastating violation of personal privacy that occurs when an intimate  image is privately shared on-line with one person, but then becomes public. Sometimes  images are posted publicly after a break-up -- so called 'revenge porn', other times, it's sextortion, i.e.,  predators actively groom vulnerable teens they've met on-line,  building a 'friendship' and with the express intent to solicit the teen to send them explicit images that they will post publicly.

We hear about these things, but tend to think they happen elsewhere, in some other county or to someone else's kids. Gray's story is about a local teen... and the concern was that what happened to him could affect at least a dozen of his friends. Technology has changed so quickly, it's hard for parents to keep up with it let alone to be ahead of the game in helping their children remain safe. We didn't grow up in a time when in an impulsive and emotionally-charged moment it was possible to take a quick intimate picture and press send... possibly having it viewed worldwide by strangers. It's the kind of situation a parent doesn't even imagine until it happens. Gray states
"He made a 10 second mistake that will now haunt him forever.
Like a grenade with the pin pulled all he can do is
wait, worry and wonder when it’s going to go off."
What teen hasn't made a10 second mistake a some point? It's chilling that todays' technology allows those mistakes to become viral. Here's a graphic and haunting video depicting a typical teenage girl...and how her whole life can be controlled due to sextortion. 

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