Report: ”Girls need to stop sending pictures”

Girls need to stop sending pictures is a report about boys and their attitudes and behaviour with respect to nude photos, intimacy, sexual offences and age differences. The report’s findings include that boys place much of the blame on girls and think that girls shouldn’t let themselves be pressured into things. This is even more clear when it comes to spreading naked photos, where boys think that it is the girls who are to blame if things go wrong and that they shouldn’t have sent the photos in the first place. This applies in particular to girls who does not have a romantic relationship with the recipient. 

ECPAT’s new report “Girls need to stop sending pictures” is based on open-ended responses from the survey “Nude Online” (Nude på nätet, 2021), where close to 13,000 children between 10 and 17 years of age responded about their experiences of being victims of crime and which strategies they have to protect themselves. In the new qualitative report Peter Anderson, who has a PhD in social work and is a certified psychotherapist, has analysed open-ended responses of boys to understand their reasoning around nude photos, intimacy, sexual offences and age differences. 

The survey shows that sending nude photos has become normalised, and that it is now seen as a natural aspect of sexuality and a good way to develop intimacy. Despite this, analysis of the boys’ responses indicates that they place a lot of blame on the person who sent the photos if they are spread online. Boys tend to see it as the girls’ problem and think that girls need to be careful not to give into pressure from boys to send them photos. The spread of photos and giving into pressure from boys to send them is seen as the responsibility of the victim. The survey also indicates that boys are less likely to seek support from the adult world when something happens, and as a result they can find it hard to understand when they have been victimised or are victimising others. 

“It is clear from the survey that boys are not aware that they are committing a sexual offence against girls when they share naked photos. They pay little attention to the consequences for the girls and place most of the blame on the victim of the crime when things go wrong. It is important that we as adults create a dialogue with young boys in order for them to understand their own boundaries and those of others,” says Anna Karin Hildingson Boqvist, Secretary General of ECPAT Sweden. 

The younger child is responsible

When it comes to age differences in sexual relationships, the report shows that boys place most of the blame on the younger child if they have lied about their age. The older child is seen as the primary victim. This clearly differs from accounts in which the perpetrator is an adult. In those cases the adult bears most of the blame. 

“Throughout the material there is a tendency for boys to blame the victim of the crime, for example regarding sending nude photos. This is even more evident in cases where there is no established romantic relationship. There is often a lack of problematising of the boys’ intentions and actions and there is a risk of potential abuse being normalised and ignored,” says Peter Andersson, the author of the report. 

Overall it is clear that boys, without much reflection, feel that they should have more freedom to explore their sexuality online than girls. There are clear indications that they are both shaming girls who are norm-breaking and hold the victims responsible for their own vulnerability. It is also clear that boys play down or hide abuse that affects boys, as this goes against the norm of how men are supposed to behave. 

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