VERY SCARY!! In this video, I share an actual question from a 7th grade student about being blackmailed to send nudes (sexting) or the other person will commit suicide. Parents and educators, please watch this video and SHARE this video. A student asked me this question during an assembly (yes in front of over 200 peers) – that tells you how real these situations are.
Scroll down to read the transcript of the video.
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Read the full transcript of this video:
Recently, I was speaking at a middle school when this seventh grader raised her hand, and you could just see the passion in her eyes that she wanted me to call on her. And when I called on her, she asked the following question. She said, “What if someone’s asking me to send nudes and if I don’t send the nudes, they’re going to commit suicide?”
Now you could tell by the way the student was asking this question that either she’s heard of this happening to someone she knows – a friend, a relative – or she has experienced this, because this was a very specific question.
After doing this work over the years (and other experts can tell you), when you get that specific of a question, it’s usually in reference to a real situation. Think about the question. Keep in mind this is a seventh grade. This person could as young as 11, could be 12, and somebody has potentially requested a nude. Now notice they don’t say “sexting” because nudes are so common they just use the phrase nudes. This person has requested a nude from them and said, “If you don’t send it, I’m going to commit suicide.”
Think about that. Think about the trauma that creates, the manipulation, that coercion. Also think about the fear it creates in that child. We’re talking about a child here. Now, they’re thinking, “If I don’t do this, someone’s going to die.” And that can be incredibly painful and scary. What this also tells us is, kids want to talk about these subjects. I was in front of over 200 students when this student raised her hand and asked this question, because they felt safe to have the conversation, and they know they needed to personally have the conversation.
So this tells those parents and schools, we’ve got to be having the conversations. It is a must. Think about the trauma in this case that is being caused. So now the question is: How do you answer that? Well, here’s the key. We want to let that student know that it is not their responsibility. That if this person does any harm to themselves – this other person – that it’s not your fault.
So here’s what we say to the student: we say to the student, one,
“That is never okay for someone to do that to you, to put that kind of pressure on you, to try to coerce you, manipulate you. That is not okay – never. In fact, that is a form of abuse. And we call that coercion. We call that blackmail or manipulation. And think of this, if they’re blackmailing you and manipulating you, coercing you with such a cruel statement like ‘I’ll kill myself if you don’t do this,’ imagine what they’ll do if they get a nude of you – how they will continue to blackmail you with the nude they receive from you. And they’ll coerce you and they’ll do these awful things. All those possibilities if you send the nude. So it could only get worse by sending the nude.”
“Now, if you’re sitting there going, “But I don’t want them to hurt themselves.” Well, this is why when somebody does this to you, you want to show it to an adult, because you – at 12 years old, or 13 years old, or 17 years old – should not have to feel the burden of this at your age. No one should have to. And so turning to someone who can help you, a trusted adult who can help take this burden off of you is so, so important. And know that you never, ever owe someone a nude. You never, ever owe someone anything you don’t want to do with your body. You don’t owe them.”
And keep in mind, this was a 12 year old. So everything about this was illegal. Everything. This person pressuring and coercion is illegal. If the nude is sent, you have distribution of child pornography by the child. If the other child shows it, you have distribution of child pornography. So what we want to help kids understand in these moments is you are not to take this burden alone. And that’s why we want to be able to turn to an adult who can help you. And if you’re scared for the person who says they’re going to kill themselves, if you’re scared they’re going to do that, by turning to an adult and showing that text to an adult, you potentially help that other person get the help they need.
If you are worried about that, that’s the best route for that to happen… is letting adults step in and get the proper people to that person. Whether that’s the authorities, which it could definitely be in this case, and mental health professionals, which could definitely be in this case. All of that can happen if you allow adults to support you in this. Show adults that text. Adults you trust, show it to them. This could be a school counselor, school teacher, could be a parent, could be a faith leader, could be the local sexual assault crisis center – but show it to someone who can help take the burden away from you.
ABOUT MIKE DOMITRZ
Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations.
From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing fear in the workplace and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately.
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