DEAR HARRIETTE: I overheard my daughter talking to her boyfriend the other day. He was pressing her to take topless photos to send to him. They are seniors in high school, and I know that they have engaged in some degree of intimacy. I’m not so happy about it, but I know this is true. But sending nude pictures is a bad idea and will likely lead to embarrassment -- or worse -- for her. How can I get her to listen to me when she already thinks she is grown? -- Drawing the Line
DEAR DRAWING THE LINE: Ideally you should be in constant conversation with your daughter about life choices and cause and effect. As she is growing up, she needs to have your family’s values repeated to her often so that when she makes decisions, she can hear your voice in her head.
In this case, be direct. Tell her that you overheard her conversation with her boyfriend. Point out that you weren’t snooping, but you did hear it, and you are concerned. Explain to her that sending nude pictures via the phone or computer can be dangerous for a number of reasons. For starters, once the photos leave her device, she no longer has control over them. Anyone may potentially see them, leaving her vulnerable to ill-meaning people. If discovered sometime down the line by the wrong people, it could hurt her chances to get into the college of her choice or the internship or job she has been longing for.
She probably doesn’t know that it is also considered child pornography if she is under 18, and both she and her boyfriend could get arrested if it were ever discovered by the police. Strongly suggest that she not take this action. It will be bad for her and her boyfriend in the long run.