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Nudes and Youth

Posted on 15 June 2021 by AJ - Youth Advisory Panel

When I was in high school, a student’s nude picture was emailed out to the entire school. The picture was removed but this didn’t stop an overwhelming amount of gossip and judgement from happening. The student was ridiculed and shamed for a pic sent without their consent.

It was totally out of line for that student to be judged when they never consented to their picture being sent out – but sometimes people forget that.

The internet can provide entertainment, knowledge, and connection. But it has also made it easier to do things that make young people vulnerable to an array of ridicule, bullying, harassment, blackmail, and embarrassment.

We see this in the media that is aimed at us. A similar situation happens in the show 13 Reasons Why, which showed the consequences of people sharing other people’s nudes without their consent. I wouldn’t argue that the series was a good representation of being a young person, but it did reinforce the real life consequences of stuff that happens online.  It’s a really negative situation.

But we can help to push through that negativity.

I think we need to understand that people sometimes reshare nudes without consent – and this can have huge consequences. Having a nude reshared without consent obviously would be a stressful thing to happen. None of this helps New Zealand’s poor youth mental health statistics.

So how can adults better support youth when this happens to people like the student at my high school? Be considerate and work out a way to resolve what happened in a way that works for the victim.

I encourage adults to listen. What we really need is some empathy and understanding, be approachable. A young person in this situation needs to feel its safe to talk about it. Having an open mind, instead of completely reacting in punishment or judgment, can better support and remove the barriers for the young person who originally sent the nude. In a lot of cases they never asked for it to be shared to other people.

So, let us lead with empathy and help young people, and support those who are vulnerable and trying to survive the consequences.

Help information

Do you have questions about nudes or need help and support? Check netsafe.org.nz/barefacts/. Our friends over at Netsafe help keep people safe online. Whether you’re dealing with bullying, scams or need advice about another issue for yourself or someone else, they can help. 

Negative or sensitive topics like nudes can make us feel not great. It is okay to not be okay. Take and break and talk to your friends or whānau. Don’t know who to talk to? Free call or text 1737 for more support.

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