What to do if you catch your teen sexting

It's important to talk to your teen about the repercussions of sexting, says Youthline's chief executive. Shortland Street's "Harry Warner" has stirred up discussion on the issue.
It's important to talk to your teen about the repercussions of sexting, says Youthline's chief executive. Shortland Street's "Harry Warner" has stirred up discussion on the issue.

Kiwi soap Shortland Street last week confronted an issue that likely resonated with many Kiwi parents: What to do if you catch your teen sexting.

During Friday's episode, one of the show's veteran characters, Dr Chris Warner, found naked photos of his teenage son, Harry, saved on the family iPad.

"Please tell me that is not your penis?" he shouts as he shows the photo to a bewildered Harry.

The prevalence of digital devices in Kiwi homes has led to more Kiwi parents having to deal with this delicate and awkward issue.

In light of the Shortland Street episode, Youthline chief executive Stephen Bell talked to Newstalk ZB about the best way for parents to talk to their kids about the possible consequences of sending potential love interests naked photos of themselves.

Although it was an awkward topic to broach, it was important for parents who discovered their child's naked selfies to stay calm and have an open discussion with the teenager, Bell told Mike Hosking Breakfast.

"It's one of those cringe moments when you think 'Oh my God, how could my beautiful child be doing this crazy thing?' [But] I think you have to actually engage with them."

Teenagers pushing the boundaries by sending naked photos needed to be made aware of the risks doing so posed to themselves and the intended recipients, Bell said.

"I think there is the potential for harm."

By sending naked photos of themselves teenagers could actually be breaking the law, Bell said, and it was important for parents to let them know this was a risk.

However, preserving the relationship between the parent and child, he said, was the most important thing when confronting the issue.

- NZ Herald

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