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Peers, not strangers most likely to make teens’ sexual images go viral on Internet

Sydney, Aug 27(ANI): Youngsters need to realise that it’s their friends and known ones, who are most probably going to be the first links in the chain of their sexual images going viral, according to a Victorian inquiry into sexting.

Michelle Hunt, from Women’s Health Grampians said education about sexting should challenge the gender typecasts perpetuated in the online sphere.

Hunt added that some young people see social media such as Facebook as a private forum among friends, when in fact it can be very public.

Young people are well informed about the risk of making friends with strangers online, but not as aware that the people most likely to circulate sexual images without their consent were peers, according to Hunt.

“There is no online and offline world for young people. It’s all intimately entangled,” the Herald Sun quoted Hunt, as saying.

“It’s most likely going to be their peer group who is going to distribute an image that’s going to cause them damage – not some creepy guy who lives on the other side of the world,” she added.

Hunt also said education should not just be based on scare tactics, but should actually question the social norms behind sexting, and added that most discussions by young people online was underpinned by the idea that women were sexually accessible to men.

“We are seeing young women’s sexuality kind of used against them. Young guys aren’t at the mercy of their libido. They can actually see a picture of a young woman and choose not to pass it on,” she said.

“They can actually have a relationship with a young woman and not have a picture of her on their smartphone to have cred on the street. Similarly, young women can be valued without needing to display themselves online,” she added. (ANI)