The much anticipated TV series The Hunting aired on SBS last night. Whilst the first 10-20 minutes may have been uncomfortable for some, it was gripping TV and so relevant for young people. For those who missed it, the opening scene was of two teenagers sexting via a computer in their bedrooms. It is filmed from the waist up only. This may be confronting viewing for some but it reflects what can and does happen behind closed doors. The episode depicts the way that young people experiment with sexuality, try to fit in with friends, struggle to deal with their emotional experiences and engage in risky behaviour.
The episode sets the scene with four teenagers who couple up and forward naked images to each other. These images are then shared between friends and subsequently posted on a “local sluts” website. And so begins a chain reaction involving the teenagers, other students, teachers and parents.
We see the way that the school handles these types of issues - with suspensions and expulsion. As the teacher says in the episode, this approach does not address or prevent these issues from occurring. In fact it pushes the issue further underground and breeds a culture of secrecy leading to victims or bystanders being reluctant to speak up. Schools need to find alternatives.
In the same way, it is important for parents to discuss cybersafety, sexting and bullying. To ask their child/ren how they are going - is everything ok? Sometimes young people make poor choices - they become caught up in something and don’t see or are unable to see the possible consequences. As adults it is important to recognise that this is part of growing up - and exacerbated by the availability of technology - and young people need support and guidance.
If you didn’t get the chance to see The Hunting, it is available on SBS On Demand. If you decide to watch it on replay with your child/ren, you have the control to skip over the uncomfortable bits if you prefer.
I will post over the coming weeks some strategies that parents, carers and teachers can use to address cybersafety and prevent problems from arising.
How will the story unfold over the next three episodes?