The Family Project: Daughter’s cell phone photos upset mother
Q. I have a beautiful, awesome 16-year-old daughter. She does well in school and she doesn’t get into trouble. This morning I dropped her off for swim team practice and saw that she left her cell phone in the car. A text caught my eye, and I snooped. She has been sending naked pictures of herself over her phone to a couple of boys. What do I do?
Starting off, panelist Denise Continenza said, “When the mother can be calm, she needs to talk to her daughter about the photo, but she shouldn’t embarrass or accuse the daughter because doing so likely will mean the teenager won’t listen.”
Talking to the daughter can be an opportunity to teach her about appropriate relationships, panelist Erica Carter said, adding, “It concerns me that she is sending the photo to more than one boy. That suggests that the daughter is not dealing with herself in a respectful way. She is allowing herself to be viewed as an object. That is not healthy.”
“It is very typical for 16-year-olds to think only about what they want, and to not think outside their own culture, Continenza said, noting, “The daughter needs to be reminded of the consequences of what she is doing.”
Concerning the consequences, Carter said, “Once you take a photo of something and send it online, it can go anywhere. If one of the boys she sent the photo to gets mad at her, he could send it to all his friends.”
Panelist Chad Stefanyak asked how the mother knows that the photo only was sent to a couple of boys, saying, “The mother needs to ask for details, as well as find out where the daughter met the boys, and what the relationships are.”
Another question is whether the daughter’s photo was solicited.
“After the discussion, the photos are still out there, and they have a way of getting around the school,” panelist Erin Stalsitz said, saying, “Worse, they could wind up on the black market.”
“Besides violating social norms, if she is sending an inappropriate picture of herself through the Internet, she is engaging child pornography,” panelist Pam Wallace said, adding, “When you talk about the legal ramifications, it becomes an incredibly serious issue.”
The panelists discussed options for the parent, including consulting an attorney or asking for advice from one of the ant-sex-trafficking resources, such as the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth, and Erica Carter, functional family therapy therapist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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