“Sexting”, Â the practice of sending self generated explicit pictures or video footage via mobile phones and the internetÂ is becoming increasingly common among some teenagers. In October 2012, the Internet Watch Foundation found that 88 per cent of self-generated, sexually explicit online content of young people had been taken from its original location and uploaded onto other websites. Statistics from the children’s charity Beatbullying suggested 38 per cent of young people have received a sexually explicit text or email, while 25 per cent have received a sexual image they found offensive. Long term consequences of “sexting” by young people can include various emotional effects (e.g. bullying, isolation etc) as well as possible criminal action.
“Sexting in schools: advice and support around self-generated images: What to do and how to handle it” aims to helps schools start to address this issue in the right way with children, young people and their families. 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
The document includes practical support for schools and advice on whether teachers can search phones and computers. The pack also includes advice to teachers about how to respond if a child tells them about ‘sexting’ they have been involved in, as well as how to handle explicit images, manage student reaction and prevent further incidents. Case studies in the document also highlight the impact that sharing of explicit images can have on children’s lives and the challenges faced by schools in dealing with it.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, welcomed the guidance, which has been produced in conjunction with a range of education groups, charities and councils. “The problem of ‘sexting’ – and the exposure of children to pornographic images through mobile devices – poses real and serious challenges for parents, head teachers and school staff,” he said. “It exemplifies the way technology blurs the boundaries between school life and the wider world.”
Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which helped develop the new document, said: “There are very real risks with this activity by young people, from bullying to the sharing of these images among sex offenders.” CEOP had seen an increase in young people sharing sexual images and videos of themselves with their peer group, he said.
“Sexting in schools: advice and support around self-generated images: What to do and how to handle it” can be downloaded here www.securus-software.com/sexting