Revenge porn prevalent in schools

  • Call for standard set of rules: Chardonaé Rawlins

    Call for standard set of rules: Chardonaé Rawlins


A clampdown on an epidemic of “revenge porn” in schools is long overdue, a psychology graduate has warned.

Chardonaé Rawlins said that new laws and a standard set of rules to tackle the problem should be introduced across the school system.

Ms Rawlins, who has an honours degree in psychology from Kingston University in London, added: “I am in the process of drafting up a demo of anti-bully and revenge porn policies that are referencing the UK policies to give to the schools.

“Every school should have it. There are different protocols for bullying than for revenge porn.

“Teachers and guidance counsellors need specific training.

“Research has proven that children go to the guidance counsellor first rather than their parents and so they need to know the proper protocol otherwise it may do more harm than good.”

Ms Rawlins, 22, said she was researching the psychological effects of revenge porn and the online posting of intimate images of people without their consent in Bermuda.

She is an intern at the clinical psychology clinic Solstice in Hamilton, and will start a master’s degree in child and adolescent health at University College London in September. She is also awaiting approval from a UK ethics committee to carry out further research.

Ms Rawlins said: “We’re currently living in a generation where social media is the highlight of our lives.

“With social media comes the negatives such as cyberbullying and revenge porn as well as various mental health affects that should be addressed.

“Many people overlook how mental health can be impacted severely based on these things and I think that’s also important to highlight. Research has shown that victims of revenge porn have almost identical mental health effects as victims of rape, including suicide ideation.

“Hopefully, my research will be able to shed light on what is actually happening in our community.”

She added that she wanted to gather statistics on revenge porn and pornography distributed without consent in Bermuda as part of her research.

She said anecdotal evidence suggested that the problem was rife in Bermuda’s schools.

Ms Rawlins explained that schoolchildren, as well as adults, send out collections of intimate images and videos of people without their consent during some weeks of the year called Leak Weeks.

She said: “Leak Week happens a few times per year and falls on the peer support theory of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ — you see your friends sending it out, you think it’s cool and you send it to someone, it gets in the wrong hands and then it just goes all around the island.

“For the younger generation, they will be sending the news via Snapchat and WhatsApp. It happens randomly and it is specifically for revenge porn.”

Ms Rawlins said that her research in Britain showed that half of people who fell victim to bullying or revenge porn reported they suffered from depression as a result.

About 45 per cent suffer from anxiety and 11 per cent have attempted suicide.

Ms Rawlins told parents: “If your child goes through this or is exposed in Leak Week — help them and seek help for them. Help them to understand that life moves on it is not the end of the world.

“Give them a tool kit to get through situations like this — you must uplift them instead of tearing them down.”

The Royal Gazette contacted high schools to ask if they had policies in place to tackle revenge porn, but only Saltus Grammar School and Warwick Academy replied by press time.

Saltus said it had a “robust” technology use policy that included rules against bullying and harassment and that all pupils and parents were required to sign it.

Warwick Academy has an anti-bullying, discipline and internet usage policy and its counsellors are trained to spot if a child needs psychological help.

Dissemination of pornographic images and videos of anyone aged under 16 is illegal and classed as child pornography, even if the material is of the sender.

Bermuda has several laws designed to cover child pornography, as well as illegal use of phones and electronic devices.

However, Ms Rawlins said: “I believe that we should amend current legislation to add a specific subgroup for image-based sexual abuse because I feel that victims want to prosecute but there is no specific legislation to aid in the process — it is not tailored towards revenge porn.

“The law would also stipulate that training be mandatory. Teachers have to be trained in the UK, guidance counsellors have to be trained — it is legislated. You have to understand the definitions.

“The laws do not protect older people — the Criminal Code Act is focused on child pornography. We need to come up with new legislation to protect women and men from revenge porn rather than just trying to piggyback off of different acts. ”

Kelly Hunt, executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said: “We must formulate a healthy approach to internet usage that utilises education and technology itself to prevent harm and protect our children.

“We urge the Ministry of Education to adopt a clear responsible use of technology policy so that expectations are outlined and actions taking place on school property are addressed.”

Information and support

Local

solstice.bm or call 292-3456

MWI Crisis hotline 236-3770

Overseas

revengepornhelpline.org.uk

ditchthelabel.org

anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/all-about-bullying/ anti-bullying-policies

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Published Feb 11, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 11, 2019 at 10:08 am)

Revenge porn prevalent in schools

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