I went for a walk with my friend who is the parent of a 7th grade girl and my friend was dating a man who also has a 7th grade girl. Her daughter was curious about the other girl (they hadn’t met yet), so she did what they all do, and looked her up on Facebook. And what did she find? Sexualized and inappropriate selfies on this 13 year old girl’s open-to-the-public page.
My friend’s daughter told her mom about the pictures and my very thoughtful, kind and heart-in-the-right-place friend calmly chatted with her daughter about what she had seen. She was careful to be non-judgemental and concerned and kept the conversation short.
What Should You Do When You See An Inappropriate Post by a Kid?
Next, she texted the girl’s father and said, very simply, “You might want to check your daughter’s Facebook posts. I’m concerned about them.”
And he texted back, “No.”
Due to his refusal to make sure his daughter was safe, even after she talked to him about this, she broke up with him. His unwillingness to even follow up with his child was a total and understandable deal breaker.
She did the right thing. If you see a post by a child that is overtly sexualized, makes you think the child is depressed or suicidal, is violent, or otherwise causes you clear concern, tell the parents. It takes a village especially in our virtual village.
But Isn’t It Meddling To Tattle On Another Person’s Child?
Maybe it’s meddling, but I don’t really give a fuck because I would want to know if my child was posting sexual pictures on her completely-open-to-the-public Facebook page. As an adult who has a completely open personal page, I get some very lovely friend requests from men I don’t know. Lucky for me, my prefrontal cortex is fully formed, my self-esteem is intact, and I can think through whether I want to friend them, or not, regardless of all their compliments about how “lovely a person” I look.
Adolescent girls are not able to discern so well. And adolescents are notorious for being impulsive and making risky and stupid decisions. If adults (and their friends) aren’t willing to say, “Um…posting a picture of yourself in shorty PJ’s with your back arched and looking all sultry, might not be a smart idea” or my favorite, “No.”
What to say to another parent about their kids’ post
You know I love scripts, so here’s what to say, or rather, how to say it:
I feel uncomfortable talking to you about this, but I know I’d want to know if I was I the same position.
My son/daughter mentioned that your child posted a picture on (social media site) and it was (overtly sexual, violent, depressed, etc.).
I am worried about your child’s safety, so I wanted to let you know.
Then shut up and be very careful, kind and thoughtful as they process. They may get mad at you. They may be grateful. They may not give a shit.
Then you have to leave it in their hands. Which can suck. Or lead to a break up.