Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Mother warns of dangers of 'sexting'

A local mother was disturbed to discover 'sexting' messages sent to her daughter's Facebook page.

KATHLEEN TONINI February 19, 2013 4:54am

A student from an Echuca school has been a victim of sexting and her parents spoke to the Riv to raise awareness of the problem.

Amy (not her real name) was disgusted by what she saw on her 14-year-old daughter’s Facebook page a little more than two weeks ago.

Her daughter Danielle (not her real name) had accidentally left herself logged in on one of the family’s mobile devices and her father saw Facebook messages from two boys asking whether she would send nude photos of herself to them.

Other messages asked if she performed anal, group and oral sex.

Another message asked Danielle to send a picture of her touching herself.

Shocked, disgusted and worried, Amy and her husband immediately rang their daughter’s Echuca school and spoke to the guidance counsellor.

‘‘I was scared and felt sick,’’ Amy said.

Danielle had replied to the boys’ messages but thankfully had not indulged their more obscene requests for pictures or explicit information.

The most serious outcome was apparently averted, but Amy and her husband were still concerned enough by the incident to approach the police, and later the Riv so as to warn other parents.

Amy said her daughter was a beautiful girl, well-liked and friendly to others, but also young and naive, like most 14-year-olds.

She said there was almost constant access to the internet at home, through laptops, and a handful of computers, iPads and phones.

Even if all this was removed, Danielle would still have access to the internet through her friends’ smartphones.

Access to the internet is easy and because she is 14, Danielle has a legitimate Facebook account. Children are legally allowed to have an account at age 13.

According to Amy, her daughter had ‘friended’ the two boys in question, thinking they were distant acquaintances.

Amy was concerned that identities could be fabricated online, for all her and her husband knew, those teenage boys could be anyone.

She was also sickened by the way the boys were speaking to her daughter.

‘‘Why is it that boys think it’s acceptable to speak to people like this?’’ she said.

Amy said she had hoped she was raising daughters to be self-respecting and confident young women.

‘‘It crushed me — her father would never speak to anyone like that,’’ she said.

Since they discovered the messages, Amy and her husband have implemented some new house rules — no mobile devices in bedrooms and only an approved list of friends on Facebook.

She said while she had always wanted to protect her children from the dangers of the outside world, in this case, it had been happening inside her own house.

Amy said while it appeared to be a lucky escape for her daughter, she was worried other girls would find themselves in a similar position.

She wants parents of teenagers to be aware of what was happening online amongst teenagers, to check their children’s Facebook pages, to set limits and maintain some sort of control.

‘‘You don’t want to be someone who says ‘how did this happen?’’’ she said.

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