The sext debate: Online culture and personal responsibility

A debate on the impact of Internet culture on young South Africans is raging after nude pictures of 20 boys from prominent Pretoria schools were leaked on Twitter last week. The boys had taken and sent the photographs to the leaker themselves. This is not the first school sexting scandal in South Africa, another recent case involved more than 200 Johannesburg pupils.  RA’EESA PATHER asked teenagers what they thought of the Pretoria boys sexting incident.

Monesha MaramwidzeMonesha Maramwidze, 17, learner, Kenilworth
I think it was a dumb move because somehow these things always get out there. You should know that you shouldn’t be sending pictures of yourself naked; it’s really stupid. I think both the boys and the person who created the Twitter account are wrong, because you can’t take somebody’s pictures and share them like that, and the boys shouldn’t have sent them in the first place. Technology is there for you to use. It can help you and you can use it to communicate, but it’s on you when you decide to send these kinds of photographs.

Nasr Ho-yeeNasr Ho-yee, 16, learner, Lansdowne
I just think it’s weird to send a picture like that to an email and it shows how kids think these days. I think kids are exposed to sex too young, because there’s no restrictions on Internet browsing so anybody can access it at anytime. It depends on the person and how they think and feel about exposing themselves to a person they barely know.

Tristan SiokosTristan Siokos, 16, learner, Hout Bay
It’s weird. Maybe wait until you’re over 18 and then it’s appropriate, I suppose. I think it’s mostly the Internet – the Internet today promotes this kind of thing. Anyone basically has access to any site they want to go to. It’s dangerous to just send photographs because you might not know who’s on the other side.

Cape Town resident**, 19, student, southern suburbs
I’m a very private person, I would never do something like that, I wouldn’t even think to do something like that. This is my body and I respect my body. Stuff like this gets leaked all the time, and they hack people’s accounts; it’s just common sense that you don’t do something like that. Some people are just looking for a confidence boost so they send out pictures and hope that they can get good a comment on it or something like that. It is a violation to share these images, that’s porn and as an Internet user I don’t want to see stuff like that if I’m on Twitter. I find it offensive.

** Name of respondent removed.

* Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity