Snapchat And Teen Vogue Encouraging Teens To Create ‘Child Pornography’ During Quarantine, National Center For Sexual Exploitation Says

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • The National Center on Sexual Exploitation accused Snapchat and Teen Vogue of encouraging teens to create child pornography by sexting during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The center is urging Teen Vogue and Snapchat to stop using their platforms to endanger children.
  • “Snapchat and Teen Vogue are playing right into sexual predators’ hands,” said National Center on Sexual Exploitation executive director Dawn Hawkins.

Snapchat and Teen Vogue are encouraging teenagers to create “child pornography” during the coronavirus quarantine through sexting, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said.

The center, which fights child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography urged Teen Vogue on Wednesday to stop encouraging teens “to create child sexual abuse material (child pornography) by sexting during quarantine.”

The group is also pressing Snapchat to stop promoting Teen Vogue’s messages through Snapchat’s Discover feature, which offers news and video content. The social media app, which is popular among teenagers, boasted 218 million daily active users worldwide as of the fourth quarter of 2019. Nearly half of those users who watch the Discover feature watch it daily.

“Snapchat and Teen Vogue are playing right into sexual predators’ hands,” said National Center on Sexual Exploitation executive director and senior vice president Dawn Hawkins in a statement.

She added: “With the likely surge of young viewers on Snapchat due to quarantine, it is socially irresponsible for Snapchat Discover to encourage minors to self-produce underage pornography (i.e. child sexual abuse materials), thereby increasing their vulnerability to sexual predators.”

NCSE noted that encouraging teenagers to sext is encouraging minors to create and distribute child pornography, also called child sex abuse material. (RELATED: Here’s Some Of The Most Explicit Material Teen Vogue Published In 2019)

“Online predators use social media platforms to pose as peers and groom children to send them sexually explicit material (i.e. ‘sext’ with them) that they can then distribute and/or use to blackmail the child into other forms of sexual exploitation,” NCSE said.

“What Teen Vogue is doing by promoting sexing to teens is insidious and harmful,” Hawkins told the DCNF. “Given what we know about the brain development of adolescents, it is clear that discussing ‘the importance of consent’ while promoting sexting for minors does not protect those minors from the dangers of sexting — even coerced sexting. The law generally does not recognize minors’ ability to consent.”

NSCE references several examples of Teen Vogue encouraging teenagers to sext during the quarantine through photos provided to the DCNF.

Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Monday, March 23. Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

“Like anything worth doing, sexting takes practice,” says a Monday Teen Vogue story on the Snapchat Discover page. “Here are 7 things you might not have known about sexting.” (RELATED: Teen Vogue Snapchat Discover Story Instructs Teenagers On How To Get Abortions)

Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Monday, March 23. Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

“Sexting should make you feel good,” a Monday Teen Vogue Discover story said. (RELATED: Pornography And Sex Trafficking Are ‘Completely Interwoven,’ Activists Warn)

Another read: “Sending someone details about what you want to do to them and getting back even more detail about what they want to do to you should be fun, easy, and ultimately joyful. Anything less than that isn’t worth your time.”

Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Monday, March 23. Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

“If you’re in the early stages of your romance, you cant still forge an emotional bond with your new boo by texting and Facetime,” another Saturday photo said. “There are all kinds of creative, fun ways to sext, if you’re at that level.”

Hawkins told the DCNF that frequent sexting among minors is used to “further bullying and sextortion among peers.”

“Images are also used as revenge pornography when the relationship sours,” she added. “Pimps/traffickers often use the images to coerce teens into commercial sex trade; and self-produced youth pornography is often shared with third parties, and sometimes finds its way into the collections of predators and their child sexual abuse material.”

Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Saturday, March 21. Photo courtesy of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation

The photos were accompanied by the article: “Dating and Coronavirus: Can You Still Kiss, Have Sex, and Go on Dates During Social Distancing,” NSCE told the DCNF.

“The news about the global spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, has changed seemingly every few hours,” writes “Down To Find Out” columnist Nona Willis Aronowitz. Willis Aronowitz did not respond to a request for comment.

Willis Aronowitz added: “Acceptable behavior during a global pandemic is a moving target, and it can be hard to pin down what, exactly, puts you and your community at risk. Sex and love can be extra-confusing, because of course in times of stress and uncertainty, all you want to do is seek out intimacy. And yet, in the midst of a pandemic, physical closeness is one of the easiest ways to spread a virus.”

Hawkins noted that the proliferation of online child sexual abuse material has increased exponentially in recent years, and insist that Teen Vogue and Snapchat “must be held socially accountable for promoting trends that put people at risk for exploitation.”

Research shows that sexting is often linked to offline sexual coercion, leaving teens inherently vulnerable,” Hawkins said. “Additionally, sexting can lead teens to be sexually extorted, sexually abused, or trafficked. Sexting is not harmless fun, as Teen Vogue would like teenagers to think, and Teen Vogue and Snapchat would be wise to stop promoting sexting to young, impressionable teens.”

Neither Snapchat nor Teen Vogue responded to requests for comment from the DCNF. (RELATED: Decriminalizing The Sex Trade In DC Empowers Pimps And Endangers Women Of Color, Activists Say)

This is not the first time Teen Vogue has come under fire for promoting sexual content to teens. In 2019, Teen Vogue also offered teenagers a chance to discover “How To Have Queer Sex,” “How To Use Sex Magic To Manifest Your Best Self,” “How To Get An Abortion If You’re A Teen” and more.

Critics of the publication said Teen Vogue’s content is entirely unfit for its teenaged audience. Anti-trafficking activist Jaco Booyens told the DCNF in December 2019 that Teen Vogue’s content grooms young people and seeks to desensitize them to such explicit content.

Donna Rice Hughes, president and CEO of Enough is Enough, an organization dedicated to making the internet safer for children, told the DCNF in December 2019 that Teen Vogue is driven by a “clear agenda to sexualize and exploit the minds of its young teen and tween readers during what should be a protected period of innocence.”

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