I’m a father of five girls, the oldest of whom is now thirteen years old. I know I’ve got a lot of boyfriends (or girlfriends) to contend with over the years. I will not be happy with many of them dating my daughters, I will be downright angry about a few of them, but I have to let my daughters get on with their lives. They will make mistakes. They will have their hearts broken, it is inevitable. But they’ll come out of it the other end stronger and wiser.
It’s therefore been a shock to the system to have already had to step into the path of two boys whose behaviour towards my daughter has, to put it mildly, been inappropriate.
Crude truth or dare questions. Obscene requests. And sexually explicit desires have all been seen via WhatsApp, Instagram, and text messages. Thankfully, my daughter hasn’t engaged in responses.
Then there’s her friends who have been the recipients of ‘dick pics’ from from young teens.
Where do they get it from? How do they know that kind of language aged 12 or 13? Who is providing them with the moral guidance they need?
We have a policy at home that limits internet usage, whether on a phone or an iPad. My daughter knows that we’ll be keep a watchful eye on activity for her own good, and we’ve had a fair few conversations about online behaviour. Not screen grabbing conversations and sharing them. Not being obscene or rude about anyone as it can be thrown back at you at any point in your future. Not engaging with others whose behaviour is inappropriate.
It gets met with frustration at times and I’m sure she sees us as being more strict than any of her friends parents, but when she’s asked by a twelve year old boy if it’s OK to “send a picture so they can wank over it” she appreciates our concern. Just as she does when a boy threatens her because she doesn’t fancy him, and we’re able to address this for her.
Yes, she’ll have to deal with people like this in real life and I won’t be there to do it for her. But she’ll know exactly how I’ve handled it in the past, and why I’ve done it, so she’ll feel confident enough to be able to say “no”, or report them to the appropriate authorities.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 65 year old film producer or a 12 year old pimply schoolboy, it’s unwelcome, it’s inappropriate, and it shouldn’t happen.