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Parents warned of “inappropriate” teen videos

Martha Dismont, executive director of Family Centre

Parents have been reminded of their responsibilities following a surge in videos and photos of teens engaged in inappropriate and unsafe behaviour.

Martha Dismont, executive director of Family Centre, said she was aware of the continued circulation of phone videos of inappropriate behaviour by children under the age of 18.

Ms Dismont said in a press release: “Increased unemployment in Bermuda is causing more and more families to struggle financially, but we cannot forget parental responsibility and the importance of paying attention to what is going on in the lives of our children.”

Director of Services at Family Centre, Sandy DeSilva stated: “As the Cup Match holiday is approaching we need to, as parents and guardians of our children, to stop for a moment and really talk to our sons and daughters about how to be a teenager in this world of social media.

“The world is not the same as it once was for teens or parents. Parents used to know who their children’s friends were, because they were introduced in person not by ‘WhatsApp’.

“The summer has seen the usual surge in videos and photos of teens engaged in inappropriate and, most importantly, unsafe behaviours going viral.

“This has unfortunately for many become a norm, almost as it if it was not videotaped, then it did not happen.

“However, the ripple effects of our shrinking privacy in this ever-changing technological world go far beyond what any parent or child may ever be able to envision.

“Hence, we urge parents to be vigilant about their sons and daughters, particularly during unstructured times. Ask them where they are going, who they will be hanging out with, discuss with them your family values and why you hold them. Discuss what friends, images, apps and other content are on their phones and ask questions so that a phone is no longer the Berlin Wall between a parents and their child.”

Ms Dismont added: “As parents and guardians, we desperately love our children and letting them make mistakes is part of teaching them to be independent and think for themselves.

“However, if we stand back too much and think that they will turn out OK, because we did, we may be sadly mistaken because the world is so much harder to live in today as a teen.

“The stakes are getting higher as they get older. When you hear of or see your child doing something wrong, tell them what you think and talk to them like an adult and they will start to respond more responsibly. Do not turn a blind eye or ignore and think it will go away, it will not.

“Cup Match is a time of Bermuda and family celebration; there is a lot going on from one end of the Island to the other. Everyone has a right to a good time without fear of retaliation, violence, or being taken advantage of. Let us treat each other with respect and come together in unity. Parents are key to pulling together their family and community so that safety is ensured for all.

“In our Island home, the difference between those children who do well and those children who do not is usually determined by the amount of sincere care, time and relationships that they have at home and with family.

“This is the anchor that they rely on as they make choices in school, with friends and then, as they branch out into the community and onto the roads, as young adults. Our message is that all solutions to our social problems must start with compassion for the unmet needs of our children. This is a responsibility that each of us must consider and then dig deep to practice.”