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Upskirting – When boundaries are crossed

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Social Media
allison heine_unsplash

“Upskirting” refers to secretly taking photos under skirts. Smartphones have made this unacceptable behavior more widespread. It is not only an invasion of privacy, but also serious sexual harassment. We explain why it is important to educate children and young people about upskirting and its consequences and offer practical advice on how to deal with the issue.

What does upskirting mean?

The worrying phenomenon of upskirting refers to secretly photographing or filming under a person’s skirt or dress. Those affected often don’t even realize when someone is recording this particularly personal and intimate area. Smartphones are now so small and handy that very good photos can be taken at lightning speed with or without a selfie stick, even in poor light.

This inappropriate and even punishable behavior often takes place on public transport, on escalators, in shopping centers, at events or even at school. It is not only a violation of privacy, but also a blatant form of sexual harassment that has serious consequences. Similarly problematic and also punishable by law is “downblousing”, the secret photographing or filming of the neckline.

Some perpetrators only use the recordings for themselves. However, they often share the images and films on the internet, for example in messaging services or on porn platforms. In 2020, the offense of “violation of private life through image recordings” was added to the Criminal Code(Section 184k StGB), with fines or even prison sentences of up to two years.

Who can Upskirting meet?

Being photographed under the skirt or in the cleavage excludes men who dress according to classic role models. In this country, upskirting is likely to mainly affect girls, women and trans* and inter* people. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to this as they may not fully understand what is happening or how to protect themselves from it.

Young people explore their surroundings and their own boundaries, which can lead to risky behavior. The fascination with the unknown, coupled with a lack of awareness of the consequences of their actions, can tempt young people to behave rashly.

Upskirting is not only a blatant violation of privacy, but can also have serious psychological effects on the victims. The dissemination of such images can have a lasting impact on the lives of those affected. It is essential to point out the seriousness of these actions and to emphasize their social and legal consequences.

How can parents deal with this?

Open communication: Talk to your child about the importance of privacy and treating others with respect. Create a space where your child can ask questions. Emphasize that no one has the right to violate your child’s personal boundaries.

Raise awareness: Explain the consequences of upskirting, not only legally, but also in terms of the emotional impact on victims. Show how such actions affect trust and security in society.

Digital responsibility: Teach your child how to use media responsibly and point out the legal consequences of inappropriate behavior. It is important that your child understands that actions online have just as real an impact as in offline life.

Build trust: Establish a relationship of trust with your child so that they can contact you if something unpleasant happens to them. Assure them that you will support them and look for solutions together.

Help and advice for upskirting

Talk to your child: Let your child know that it is okay to confide in you and listen carefully.

Report the incident: Upskirting is a criminal offense and should be reported to the police. Encourage and support your child to do this. Upskirting violates personal rights and infringes the right to sexual self-determination. This means that no one may be turned into a sex object against their will. One law provides for a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine.

Even those who do not take photographs themselves but distribute unauthorized intimate images or make them accessible to others can be punished. Upskirting is not a piquant peccadillo, but a sexual offense.

Seek professional help: Upskirting can have an emotional impact. If necessary, seek help to help your child come to terms with the situation.

For children and young people:

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