Ad Council still blaming victims

The Ad Council has teamed up with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children again to make a new public service announcement about sexting. It is the latest installment in the “Think Before you Post” series, which aims to address online sexual exploitation by telling girls not to post or share images of themselves online. These ads do not instruct men or boys not to exploit people, but rather put the responsibility on girls for preventing their own victimization. The new ad about sexting is no exception:

While the people at the Ad Council and NCMEC haven’t changed this victim-blaming message since the start of the “Think before you post” campaign in 2005, some of the comments on YouTube about the video articulate many important critiques.

1. The idea of the “online predator” diverts our attention from the more mundane (and far more common) forms of child sexual abuse within the home and family circle. The dominant image of the online predator is a caricature:

pedo’s only ever have moustache and glasses (haelvidge1)

2. The ad is targeted only to girls as sext-producers, and offers boys no choice to not forward the image they receive:

But I’m a guy, so surely it’s relevant for me to be able to stop it… I’m confused. What message is this sending guys? That they have no choice but to pass messages on? (JamesFarrkoff)