Shit happens. Especially rejection. Teach your kids how to deal with it and you may avoid a sexting crisis.
Rejection is a common motivator in many of the sexting cases I come across. Kids distribute others' intimate pictures and videos as a form of retaliation. This is called revenge porn.
Common revenge porn scenarios
Two people were in a relationship and shared intimate photos and videos. One of them decided to end it. The person who was left shared the photos and videos as a form of retaliation for the breakup.
Two people are not in a relationship, but share inappropriate photos. One thinks this will lead to a relationship. When it doesn’t progress and the other person moves on with someone else, the rejected one shares the other's intimate photos as retaliation.
Rejection is a natural part of life. Everyone has been or will be rejected at some point. Knowing how to handle it appropriately is a valuable skill. Teach your child that rejection is unavoidable and show them how to handle it in a positive way. The alternative—them not knowing how to deal with it and lashing out at someone—can lead to serious legal consequences, and the situation will go from bad to worse.
Key talking points
- Sometimes things won’t turn out the way you want them to turn out
- Some people won’t treat you well
- How you handle it says a lot about your character
- How they handle it says a lot about their character
Remind your kids to think before they post, send or share…what they do online is a digital record that can and will come back to haunt them.
What to do when rejected
- Take time to mourn the loss or deconstruct the situation and figure out what you can learn or take from it
- Find someone to talk to who supports you and listens but will help you move past the rejection and not fuel your fire and amplify your negative feelings
- Make an effort to heal. Keep yourself busy. Do things that make you feel good: journal, talking about your feelings, meditate, spend time with friends, pick up a new interest, etc.
- Focus on what you have and what you're grateful for, this will help take the focus off the loss
- If you're really having a hard time moving forward and letting go, talk to a professional to help with the process
What not to do when rejected
- Share or spread other's personal information, photos or videos this can come back to haunt you or be used against you by law enforcement
- Subtweet (tweeting/posting about an individual without mentioning them specifically) for attention or to shame or publicly humiliate the person
- Allow yourself to sit in "poor me," feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on what happened and how you were wronged
- Completely blame yourself, decide it’s because there is something wrong with you and pick yourself apart, some people just aren’t a good fit
- Glorify or idealize the person or the situation, only remember the good and forget the bad
Parents, remember you're a role model on how to handle rejection. (You can use these tips, too!) Good luck, let us know how it goes!
Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW
I'm a clinical social worker and child advocate. After more than 20 years of working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings I created Sexting Solutions, a successful program designed to teach kids to respect themselves and others, show empathy and stop abuse. Intended as an alternative to legal consequences for kids who were caught sexting, it focuses on building skills that develop a solid foundation for healthier adolescent years and beyond. Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking the icon directly below.