Tech Talk Tuesday: The Reality of Sexting in College Athletics

May 1, 2018

Tech Talk Tuesday: The Reality of Sexting in College Athletics
Carrie Cecil

Humans have been sharing naked images since about 3200 BC when the Egyptian’s hieroglyphic system was developed. Fast-forward to magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Playgirl and the digital age of the internet, smartphones, and social media. Sharing indiscrete images isn’t a new behavior but sharing them on an electronic device can be a crime and it can cause unimaginable distress, depression and embarrassment for those that are literally, exposed.

As an athletic leader or coach, it is our responsibility to begin a real dialogue and educate our athletes on the dangers of sexting. Did you know that if a player receives a hot image over an electronic device and that image inadvertency contains someone younger than 18-years-old, that the player can face child pornography charges and be placed on the sex-offenders registry if they share it? And, the person who sent the image (even if it’s their own body) can face criminal charges? Imagine for second that this is your 19-year-old star quarterback who is still in a relationship with his 17-year-old high school sweetheart.

No matter the legal consequences, one of the most important components of addressing sexting is openly communicating and educating, not scaring your athletes. It is critical to communicate the relatable emotional consequences that impact athletes if and when their photo is shared with others or placed on revenge porn sites, or more.

From depression, embarrassment, fear, regret or even suicide, these consequences are real. Thus, help your athletes to relate to the why they are sexting and make sure they understand the fallout before sending or receiving a sext.

Here are some tips for communicating with your athletes in an honest and open manner to get the dialogue rolling. Remember to ask real questions and please don’t be JUDGEMENTAL.

Talk, listen, coach and help – not shame:

How do you feel about sexting?
Have you ever been asked to send a nude or suggestive photo?
Did you do it?
Why did you do it?
Are you okay with it?
Do you have a trustworthy person (teacher, counselor, coach, parent) that you can talk to about sexting?
Do you understand the consequences of sharing these types of images?
Again, be open and educational not judgmental or scary.
Do you know what to do if someone sends you an unsolicited sext?
Do you know how to respond if someone asks you to send them nudes or indiscreet images?
Do you need help with getting a sext removed?
As leaders, we need to keep the lines of communication open and remind our athletes of the emotional, physical and legal consequences of sharing one indiscreet photo.

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