PMJ Productions develops and stages plays from emerging writers that create debate. Sket by Maya Sondhi is a play based on true stories told to the writer by young people when she volunteered for the charity TeenBoundaries. The play follows the lives of six pupils in an inner city school in the 21st century whose lives are consumed by technology where ‘sexting’ and ‘selfies’ are the norm and access to sexual imagery is available 24/7.
In Sket, these simple words “You’re so beautiful… take a picture, take one for me right now and send it” generates a ‘sext’ which launches a spiral of events that has far reaching consequences…
In 2014, the play was staged as a reading. The adult audience was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ at how young people communicate and responded with an urgent wish for the play to be brought to a wider audience to provoke discussion around the ‘digital footprint’, a potential minefield about which the teenagers appeared oblivious.
In 2015, this issue is still relevant. Recently, a 14 year old boy from northern England sent a naked selfie via Snapchat to a girl from the same school. She screenshot the image and shared it with others. Since ‘sexting’ is illegal if you are under 18 years, he has had the crime of making and distributing indecent images recorded against him, his name will stay on a police database for 10 years.
The boy’s mother said to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “ I think at best it was naive and at worst he was just a teenager”. She added ‘sexting’ was “just how teenagers flirt these days”.
This echoes what was found in a 2012 Channel 4 documentary Generation sex : explicit pics ‘the norm’ for teens where Channel 4 news and NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) spoke to children aged 13-16 for 6 months up and down England to find out what the average young teenager in school faces on a daily basis.
They found that sending explicit naked pictures is part of ‘everyday life’ for teenagers and that their parents were totally out of touch with what is happening. Furthermore, they found that young people feel they have nowhere to turn for support or information if things go wrong in the digital world.
This is a hard hitting play that many adults might not want to hear the reality that faces young people today. This is a WORLDWIDE problem as seen in the ‘sexting’ revelations at a High School in Colorado, USA where it is reported in the New York Times that 100 students traded naked pictures of themselves and one another. The solution suggested: text messaging services where teenagers can submit questions anonymously and receive informed answers.
However, ‘sexting’ is not harmless fun. It can have serious consequences as the internet never forgets making it difficult for young people to get away from their past experience and move on.
There can be tragic consequences as seen in the case of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who at the age of 15 committed suicide. It all started with a topless photo…
Her YouTube video was posted online before her death – My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm describes simply how she could never escape from the one mistake that she made when she was 12 years old.
This is an important play to stage and with your help will bring young voices into the public debate about how the world has changed immeasurably in the 21st century