90 young people in UK “have been cautioned as a result of posting sexual material of themselves or their underage friends online or on their mobile phones,” the Daily Mail reports.
This phenomena known as “Sexting” is becoming increasingly commonplace with children and young people.. The accessibility of adult content online means that children as young as 8 are being exposed to (often) hard-core pornography online from their own homes. However for some young people this is taken a step further with them actually creating their films or posting provocative images online.
Whilst undertaking a report into Online Pornography for BBC Radio 4, Penny Marshall spent time working with young people to find out their views where she began to find out more about “sexting” and how children are creating these images and posting online such as in social networking and video sharing sites. The full article can be read here
In the past year, there have been at least two cases in the UK where police have been called into schools after footage of pupils performing sex acts has been discovered on their phones; one involved children as young as 13.
‘What some of today’s youngsters are doing is, by any civilised, contemporary standards, obscene,‘ says John Carr of the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety. ‘It also happens to be illegal. It’s a genuinely new problem which is the result of the emergence of new technology together with an increasing cultural tolerance of pornography. It’s horrifying, and we are only now becoming aware of the full extent of the problem. Publishing any photograph of a child – that’s anyone under 18 – which is of a sexual nature is illegal. So children who put pornographic photographs of themselves online or share the material via their mobile phones are, technically, breaking the law.’
The story of Jessie Logan, can show young people the devastating effects this can have on their lives. Jessie, 18 posted nude photos of herself to her 19 year old boyfriend, when they split up those images were forwarded and Jessie was bullied (both online and offline) before eventually hanging herself.
John Carr says young people who behave inappropriately or obscenely and post their material online could do lasting and irreversible damage to their future chances of success.
‘Children feel invincible online. They believe the material they are producing is private. But they are wrong on both counts. We’ve had documented accounts of employers, and universities and colleges, trawling the net looking for information about prospective candidates. This behaviour can have long lasting effects. What goes online stays online – for ever.’