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November 16, 2013
by Christie Hunter

Internet Humiliation and Teens: The Consequences of Sharing Sensitive Photos Online

November 16, 2013 04:55 by Christie Hunter  [About the Author]

Your teenage daughter has a new boyfriend and she seems happy with him. Behind closed doors, however, she is being pressured to send naked pictures of herself to him. She wants to please him so she obliges. What she doesn't know is that he is planning on sharing that photo with all his buddies and  soon it will be all over the internet. What will happen to her?

Humiliation is the ultimate loss of control. When someone is humiliated they are – whether intentionally or not – put into a position of inferiority, their self worth is diminished and they are devalued as a human being. From severe abuse designed to dehumanize to a perceived insult, the feelings of being humiliated can have negative psychological consequences. Humiliation is associated with many forms of psychosocial problems such as juvenile delinquency, depression, paranoia, and domestic violence. [1] Those who have adapted badly to humiliation may demonstrate intense, destructive anger in extreme cases.

With the prevalence of social media and its capacity to allow users to quickly share information worldwide today, it is logical that the internet opens people up to the possibility of being widely  humiliated. Teens, because social media is so integrated into their lives, are particularly vulnerable to being virtually humiliated by peers and online bullies.

An exceptional example of a teen that was considered to have been humiliated on the internet is the “Star Wars Kid”, a Canadian teen who videotaped himself doing some cool Darth Maul moves one day with a golf club retriever. Some of his peers got a hold of that video and shared it online. It went “viral”, meaning it became exceptionally popular online, reaching some one billion viewers. The online comments directed at the child, Ghyslain Raza, were relentless, many being about his weight. Raza dropped out of school as a result of the harassment from his peers, reportedly entered a psychiatric ward and will require psychiatric care for an undetermined amount of time. Raza went into what is known as “condemned isolation”, where sufferers of humiliation withdraw from society completely.

Raza's is an extreme case, but many teens today are at risk of internet humiliation. An increasingly common way in which teens are facing humiliation is the posting of a sensitive – that is, sexually explicit - photos or videos of a themselves online without their consent. But how would a bully or an abuser with the intent to injure another person get their hands on such material? They get it from your child.

Sexting –

the act of sharing sexual photos or engaging in sexual conversation though various social and mobile media – is becoming alarmingly popular with teens. Teens face tremendous peer pressure to share racy photos of themselves. In a recent survey of teens ages 13-19, 20% of teens overall, 22% of teen girls, and18% of teen boys say they have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves electronically. 11% of young teen girls ages 13-16 have also engaged in this activity. The majority send to significant others, but 15% sent them to someone they only knew online. [2]

 If your child has been compromised online, it is helpful to assist them to perceive the situation as unimportant relative to the greater scheme of things, as the experience of being humiliated is graded by not only the intensity of the circumstances but also by how the events are perceived. It is important for you to listen to your child an empathize with their situation. Perhaps share examples of humiliation from your own life with them. There are so many examples of internet humiliation out there now that it is almost a given that it occurs to everyone at some point. Share examples of other people's online humiliation to let them know what they are experiencing is not unique. Another great way to confront the humiliation is with good old fashioned humor. Laughing it off as much as possible may help to diffuse the tension and pain of having been deeply humiliated. [3]

Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are ways to help your teen avoid humiliation in the fist place and that is by explaining the consequences of sending nude photos or videos electronically over the phone or internet, which can be detrimental if they are shared beyond the intended audience. First of all, if a teen sends or keeps an explicit photo of another teen, they may face child pornography charges. Then there is the damage to their reputation and the loss of potential employment in the future as a result of having that photo out there. [4]

Remind them that when dealing with the internet, no matter the vehicle for sending information electronically, there is NO expectation of privacy. Forwarding is a click away so sexting via email is off limits, too. The lack of face to face communication creates a false sense of security online and teens should not get comfortable with sexting, even if your child trusts the other person implicitly. It is said that sexting isn't a two way street but a multi-lane highway. The chances that the photo will get shared against your child's will is very high and they know this, as 40% of teens and young adults admit others have showed them nude photos and videos that were intended to be private.


[1] [“Humiliation: assessing the  specter of derision, degradation, and debasement. Linda M. Hartling . 1995  p. 37, 50 ]

[2] [Results from a survey of teens and young adults The National Campaign 2008 ]

[3] [Shame and Humiliation: From Isolation to Relational Transformation Linda M. Hartling, Ph.D., Wendy Rosen, Ph.D., Maureen Walker, Ph.D., Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D p. 1, 2 ]

[4] [ ]

About the Author

Christie Hunter

Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at -

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