Should Emma ‘like’ him? A story for teenage girls about ‘sexting’
My tummy’s full of butterflies. I feel so excited, but I’m nervous too. There’s a boy who has been looking at me at break time. He’s got shiny black hair which he sweeps back over his head. I got a text on my phone and it’s from him.
‘I love your smile’ it says. He has signed it ML, that’s him, ML.
I text back ‘I love your hair.’
I keep checking my phone all day, nothing happens then just before last lesson it buzzes in my pocket. Mustn’t let the teachers see me looking at it, she will confiscate it. I pretend to look in my bag for a pencil. Yes! the message is from him! I decide to save it for later, on the bus where I can enjoy it in private.
Ellie my best friend has a boyfriend, well she says he’s her boyfriend but they never do anything together, they just sit and tease each other at lunchtimes. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I don’t think boys would fancy me. My brother says I’m ugly and fat. My mum tells him off if he says that, but he’s probably right. I’m what they call a big girl.
Anyway on the bus those butterflies are flapping around my insides again. I plonk down on the seat at the front upstairs. My phone lies in my hand. I look around, no one else is on the front seats. I check the message. It’s a photo of MML’s cheek with his hand touching it in a way that makes me shiver and feel excited. I don’t know how he took that pic. It’s not a selfie.
“Like me?” said the caption.
I don’t know what to say, of course I like him, he looks gorgeous, but why is he sending me this photo?
I text “Yes”, that’s all.
Every day he sends me a photo of himself, usually of his hands, often of his hair, sometimes of parts of his face. One day sends me a picture of his feet. They make me laugh, they are just as perfect as his hands. He doesn’t say anything except ‘Like it?’
Now I’m in my bedroom doing my homework and the phone pings. It’s ML. No photo but: ‘Send me a pic of you’.
I take one of my right foot, my toes have blue nail varnish and I think he might like that.
He replies “Higher”. My stomach lurches, what does he want? I take a pic of my hand. “ Better”, he says.
He doesn’t stare at me in school any more. In fact he seems to disappear into the distance whenever I catch sight of him. It’s strange.
In my bedroom, ping goes the phone again. It’s a picture of ML’s knees. He is wearing blue jeans. His hand is draped across his knees as if he is stroking them.
‘Yours?’ is the message.
Butterflies again. Why does he want to see my knees? I take off my black school trousers and put on my tights. My legs look better with tights on. I take a picture on my knees with my hand on one of them just like his hand, sort of stroking my knee. I feel a bit funny doing it, like it was a bit risky, but I do it anyway.
I’m waiting for a reply. Nothing happens. In school the next day, there is ML in a little crowd with my brother, all looking my way, laughing and pointing at me. My brother looks embarrassed and angry.
I feel terrible. I’ve been so stupid to trust that boy with my photos, that boy who never even speaks to me. I have a horrible day.
My brother comes home and flings his rucksack on the floor. He gives me such a filthy look I burst into tears. Mum and dad are at work and I feel so stupid and hurt.
My brother’s face softens he comes over and puts his hand on my arm. He is two years older than me and I care about what he thinks.
‘Is that the worst photo you sent to ML? The one of your knees?’
‘What do you mean the worst? He’s got photos of my hands and my hair.’
‘That’s not so bad then, but don’t send in any more will you Emma? I know he looks like a rock star , but he’s just a filthy toad . He’s been getting girls to send pictures of their breasts, and naked pictures to him, then he is blackmailing them.
I feel the blood drain from my face. I sort of know what he means, but I still need to ask. My bother explains.
‘Well, he says that they have to meet him and do what he says, or he will put their photos on Facebook. Then he brags about what he has done to them to all his mates.’
My mind races ahead. My mum and dad might find out what I’ve been doing, and the teachers at school, and my friends. Oh dear, I’m crying now. How could I have been so trusting… so stupid??
‘ Look Emms, I’m sorry I’ve been rude to you saying you’re fat and ugly, you are not, and a lot of my friends fancy you. But I’m protecting you from them, because some of them just aren’t very nice to girls.’
“Oh, thanks a lot you, try make me feel bad about myself, so that I don’t notice that your so called friends like me! And ML is one of your friends?”
‘No he’s the worst, but some of my friends like him, they say he’s a laugh. Anyway tell me you won’t give embarrassing photos to anyone ever again, and then I won’t have to worry about you, and I’m sorry I was unkind to you, I didn’t think!’
‘And what about my knees?’
‘ Don’t worry, ML will be up in front of the headmaster before you know it. I’m going to report him. What he’s doing is illegal, he’ll get a warning from the law tomorrow, you’ll see.’
Does this remind you of anything in your life?
Once you give your photo to anyone else, is it private?
What is the worst thing that could happen?
Have you been tempted to be unwise in this way? Did you make the right decision?