On 6th August a tweet was posted that started a movement. A mother was taking her daughter shopping in Kent when she saw a neon wall display in a well-known high street store reading ‘send me nudes x’. This shop markets towards teenage girls and the sign made quite a statement, not just to their customers but to society, about what is considered acceptable in a highly connected world. A photo was taken, the tweet was posted and it soon gained momentum.

Pictures

In a visually stimulated and online culture it is devastatingly common for young people to send, receive or view nudes. These are pictures where all or part of a person is seen displaying indecent content. A young person may have taken it of themselves or been sent it by someone else. Either way, it is a conversation that I have had again and again with teenagers whether churched or unchurched.

Risks

Pictures can be forwarded, doctored, put onto websites and more, with devastating results. Many young people don’t know that it is illegal to have or send indecent pictures of someone under the age of 18. They would be viewed as owning or distributing indecent images of children and can result in the associated consequences. This is before we begin to consider how young people, either male or female, should view themselves or others. How they view their identity, sexuality, beauty and humanity as chosen and priceless individuals. Their bodies are a gift only to be shared with someone who is worthy.

Petition 

Living in a highly connected culture can present challenges, but it also presents incredible opportunities. Once the picture had been posted a petition began. Within 2 days it had over 8500 signatures and within 24 hours the shop responded brilliantly by covering the sign and agreeing to removed it. They began to recognise the power of their voice to affect a generation.

Watchmen

As youth workers, parents and adults we must begin to do the same. Throughout the Old Testament we see God commission watchmen to stand guard, pray and speak out Gods heart over a nation. I believe that God wants to commission watchmen once again. Each of us has a voice and a choice about how to use it. We can choose to speak out and fight for the next generation and speak truth over their calling and their intention. However, we must educate our teenagers in how to use and steward that same voice to shape the world into all that it could be. We must not allow them to settle for what others would make it.

UPDATE: A petition was set up which got 9,402 signatures and within 24 hours, the store removed the sign. You can check out the successful campaign at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/respect-girls-more-take-down-your-sign

Laura Hancock

Head of YFC Resources