By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
With virtually unlimited access to people and information online, unfortunately one can become an easy target for predators.
Children, teenagers and adults alike may find themselves in situations where sexual harassment occurs more often through media rather than face-to-face encounters.
The Air Force defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
“If you have to question it, you probably should not be doing it,” said Staff Sgt. Jessica Mathes, 19th Airlift Wing Equal Opportunity noncommissioned officer in charge.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sexting is sending sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone.
“It is illegal, but if it were not, doing it would not be a smart decision,” said Mathes.
Despite the trust one may have with the recipient of the sext message, those messages, once sent are not private. As soon as you send a sext message the receiver of the message has the opportunity to send it to whomever they choose. It could be forwarded to the web.
“Be cautious about what you put out there because there are no mulligans when it comes to posting things on the web; it is out there forever,” Mathes said.
No one can stop sexual harassment online except the offenders, but individuals have a responsibility to educate themself and talk to their children about being approached online. Also, changing the privacy settings on devices where the internet is available can limit access to websites where there are possible predators.
“It does not matter if you are saying or doing things face-to-face or over the internet, harassment is harassment,” said Mathes.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and Lisa Dicus 19th Medical OperationsSquadron Family Advocacy Outreach manager, wants Team Little Rock members to be aware of the implications sexting can have on dating.
“A common misconception is that ignoring harassment will actually stop it. It can be more proactive and productive to tell a harasser to STOP than to act like it’s not happening at all,” said Dicus.
For safety reasons, determine when it’s appropriate to engage a harasser and when it’s best to ignore them, but also, sometimes it’s best to not even put yourself in that situation in the first place, said Dicus.
If anyone is being harassed online, remove one’s self from the situation. Report the situation to a wingman, leadership or the EO office.
To contact someone at the EO office call (501) 987-8629. The office is located at 842 Leadership Drive 1st floor, rooms 101-105.