The cross : What is a “sext”?
Axelle Desaint: A contraction of “sex” and “texting”, this term designates the fact of sending naked or sexual messages, photos or videos, by electronic means (social networks, messaging, forum, etc.). For the latter, teenagers call it “nudes”. With the development of digital tools, affective relationships have evolved and, today, in a process of seduction or even within couples, the sharing of this type of content is quite common. Young people are often inspired by strongly sexualized images broadcast by influencers, or stars who highlight their bodies. Without even being aware of it, they integrate these codes into their own images.
What are the risks ?
AD: If the relationship ends badly, one of the two can use these intimate images, often collected with the consent of the other, to get revenge. For some time now, there have been “fisha” (verlan for “posting”) accounts on social networks that highlight naked photos of a person, often a young girl, in order to humiliate them. In addition, some malicious individuals can establish a relationship of trust with very young people online in order to obtain sexualized photos and use them to blackmail them or feed child pornography networks.
What advice can you give to teenagers?
AD: They should be told to be constantly suspicious and never to share such images. As soon as they are shared, they escape them. Even vacation photos, in a bathing suit on a beach, for example, can take on different connotations and end up in clandestine circuits. Young people need to be able to say no to a boyfriend who demands nudes. They have to be convinced that they don’t need that to be loved. Moreover, a minor does not have the right to hold images of another naked minor.
What is the responsibility of parents?
AD: Many do not know that it exists or do not think they are concerned. However, a child is not responsible for his image. It is the adult who will be worried by justice if images of his naked child circulate or if his child shares photos of a comrade (even not naked) without the consent of his parents. Families are well aware of this when they sign an image rights authorization at the beginning of the year in sports clubs or schools. The rules don’t change online.
Parents should also be careful with the photos they themselves share. When a child finds himself very early photographed from every angle and exposed on social networks, he will be tempted to do the same thing. In the event of a problem, if an image of your child is broadcast on the networks without their consent, it is important not to make them feel guilty and to alert reporting platforms such as Pharos (Platform for harmonization, analysis, cross-checking and orientation of reports), or Point of contact or e-Enfance associations. There are remedies, even if we are never certain that an image that has circulated can be completely stopped.