Sexting: A Proposal to Assist those who are Cyberbullied via Sexts Sheri Bauman, Ph.D. University of Arizona Presentation at the International Bullying Prevention Association Annual Conference November 17, 2014 San Diego, CA Sexting • The practice of transmitting sexual content via digital technology, including images, video, and text • Sexts become cyberbullying when they are sent or posted without permission and cause humiliation and embarrassment to the target Legal Issues • Cyberbullying is not illegal, but sexting can be prosecuted under existing laws. • In some states, creation, possession, or distribution of explicit images of a juvenile can be charged with such crimes as sexual exploitation of a minor. • Federal laws prohibit the use of a computer to “ship, transport, receive, distribute, or reproduce for distribution a depicting of a minor actually engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” or anything that is classified as child pornography. • When state law considers sexting to be child pornography, the offense is usually a felony and conviction requires registration as a sex offender. Prevalence • Wolak & Finkelhor, 2011: – 4% of national sample (age 12- 17) had created and sent sexual images • Mitchell, Finkelhor, Jones, & Wolak, 2012: – Surveyed 1560 Internet users age 10 – 17 2.4% had created nude or almost nude images, but only 1% were sexually explicit 7.1% had received nude or nearly nude images 5.9% had received sexually explicit images • Pew Internet and American Life survey – 4% of teens with cell phone sent sexually suggestive images to someone – 15% had received such messages • Temple et al., 2012 – High school students in Texas were sampled • 28% sent naked photo to someone • 31% asked for a naked photo from someone • 57% had received requests to sent a sext and were bothered by the request Types of Sexting • Aggravated: – Adult involvement, illegal or abusive behavior by minors, malicious use of images following conflicts, or using images without knowledge of subject or despite objections of the subject. • Experimental – Emerge from exploration of sexuality – Efforts to flirt, attract romantic partners, experiment with sexual activity, or to gain attention Prevention & Intervention • Internet Safety Education (ISE) examined existing program to teach kids how to avoid being victimized – Existing approaches did not contain all the components of effective prevention education • Developmental factors – Tend to believe they are invulnerable – Frontal cortex not completely developed – Imaginary audience phenomenon exacerbates the problem • The photo-sharing app Snapchat offers a false sense of privacy by promising it will erase photos. • This collection, which might be published this weekend, is likely to include child pornography. Snapchat is popular as a tool for sending nude images. And half of its users are teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. • "Everyone who sends a message using Snapchat's service could be at risk," said Patrick Wardle, research director at security firm Synack. Psychological Consequences • Those to have been victimized via sexting are likely to exhibit symptoms of disorders for which evidence-based treatment is available: – Depression – Anxiety – PTSD Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) • Used to treat depression in adolescents • Effective with suicidal adolescents • Effective for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents • Focus on the cognitive triad • Dispute cognitive distortions Initial assessment • Assess for suicidality. In addition to standard questions, ask “What could happen to push you to the point of wanting to end your life?” • Use established measures (e.g., Beck Youth Inventory) to assess depression, anxiety, anger, disruptive behavior, and self-concept Using CBT: Considerations • Adult helper must understand the problem and technology – Minimizing can exacerbate the problem – Lack of understanding tells the youth that you don’t get it • Self-monitoring of mood and other symptoms should be introduced • Cognitive restructuring is basic and very challenging – Everyone has seen the photo – Even if the photo is taken down, it could re-appear and ruin my chances for college, job, etc. Disputing Distortions • • • • Everyone thinks I’m a whore Everyone knows what I did This will haunt me forever Everyone has seen the picture Behavioral Interventions • Design strategy to reduce re-visiting offending sites, images, etc. • Relaxation and systematic desensitization for reducing anxiety • Include family to assist in monitoring mood, school attendance, and primarily to enlist support for the teen • Identify sources of social support in and out of school • Frequent follow-ups Brainstorming actions • Possibilities: – Contact police – Change schools – Close social media accounts – Change phone numbers – Join anti-bullying groups Possible strategies • • • • Contact website and request removal of material Report to authorities Consider legal action Generate positive content (google-bomb) to balance the negative • Develop an essay to present to college admissions or employer • Hire reputation manager (e.g., reputation.com) Offenders Thank you for your attention! [email protected] Bauman, S. (in press). Cyberbullying and sexting: School mental health concerns. In R. Witte & S. Mosley-Howard, Mental health practice in today’s schools: Current issues and interventions. NY: Springer.