New guidance to help schools deal with incidents of ‘sexting’ – the sharing of explicit pictures or video through mobile phones and the internet – has been published.
“Sexting”, the practice of sending self generated explicit pictures or video footage via mobile phones and the internet is becoming increasingly common among some teenagers. Last May, a study by the NSPCC found that teenage girls are facing increasing pressure from friends and peers to provide sexually explicit pictures of themselves. It is known that over a third (38%) of young people have received an ‘offensive or distressing sexual image via text or email’ and a quarter(25%) have received an ‘offensive sexual image.
In October, the Internet Watch Foundation found that 88% of self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people identified by their Internet Content Analysts had been taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites.
Peter Davies, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre states that:
“CEOP has seen an increase in young people sharing sexual pictures and video content of
themselves amongst their peer group. More than 1 in 5 (22 per cent) of reports received by CEOP from industry in 2011/12 related to the distribution of self-generated indecent images. There are very real risks with this activity by young people, from bullying to the sharing of these images among sex offenders. “
Former detective and child abuse investigator Sharon Girling OBE, now a safeguarding consultant, identified the need for the resource after advising a number of schools whose pupils had been affected by separate incidents of sexting.
‘Sexting’ in schools: advice and support around self-generated images: What to do and how to handle it’ contains practical advice about how schools should respond to an incident, including how to support a child whose image has been shared and whether or not devices can be searched.
The advice includes sections on responding to the disclosure of an incident from a child, how to handle explicit images, how to limit the impact of an incident, managing student reaction and preventing further incidents.
In addition case studies in the document highlight the significant challenges faced by schools in dealing with sexting incidents, exemplifying the findings of a number of recent studies which have shed light on the scope of ‘sexting’ and the devastating impact it can have on children’s lives.
The guidance has been developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation child protection charity, and sponsored by online software company Securus with input from Medway County Council and Kent County Council
It can be downloaded from the link below: