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Revenge Porn: What it Is and What You Need to Know

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Revenge porn is the nonconsensual digital distribution of pornography and sexually explicit images and videos without the individual’s consent. The most common way that these images end up online for the world to see is after a bitter breakup. As reported by the Internet Watch Foundation, 88% of self-generated explicit images and videos are taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites.

Taking explicit photos and sharing them with others isn’t an activity limited to adults. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20% of teens overall have taken and shared nude, or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves. 48% of teens have received such content.

As previously shared, consequences to sharing nude or semi-nude photos and videos can range from suspension, to expulsion, a ruined reputation, and in extreme – and thankfully – rare cases, being found guilty of the distribution of child pornongraphy. Now, parents, there’s a new consequence to be prepared for: your child becoming a victim of “revenge porn.” As a parent, I recommend that you are proactive with your child and talk about the potential consequences of distributing these types of images. Establishing an open dialogue will help educate your child so that they don’t become a victim.

While the person who posts sexually explicit images or videos that were previously shared with them under the assumption they’d remain private, may have done so because they thought it would be funny or it would make them feel better, revenge porn can ruin the victim’s life. Some people have had to change their names, others have taken their own lives.

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But here’s some good news: laws prohibiting revenge porn exist in nine states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, New Jersey, Idaho, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Just last week, the ban in California was updated to include “selfies” in the definition of revenge porn. Distributing revenge porn is now a misdemeanor in California punishable with up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine. While this is a good start, nine out of 50 states isn’t enough. Considering that revenge porn is potentially deadly, legislation like this should exist throughout the United States. Hand-in-hand, should be an education program that teaches everyone about the consequences of sharing explicit photos without an individual’s consent.

It is also important to note that females are disproportionately made the subject of revenge porn and males are the typical perpetrators. As a parent of both boys and girls myself, I encourage you to:

1. Talk to your sons and daughters about why they shouldn’t send anyone sexually explicit images of themselves to anyone. (Depending on your child’s age, the specifics should be applicable to “PG”, “PG-13” or “R” ratings and very straight forward.)

2. Talk to them about how destructive it can be to another person to ridicule them for their sexuality. By not talking to our sons and daughters about sexual humiliation we are doing them, and particularly our daughters, a disservice.

Lastly, anyone can be a victim of revenge porn, regardless of gender. Sexual humiliation is deeply painful no matter who you are. But if we ever want to see a world where people aren’t pressured to suicide because someone betrayed their trust, we have to consider how our, and our children’s actions or inactions, contribute to our society. Let’s work together to create a healthier online experience for our children and our families. Your involvement and dialogue with your children about revenge porn is the first step to teaching them to respect each other.

 

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