The research conducted also indicates that most young people aren’t only sharing sexual imagery of themselves - demonstrating why it so important to intervene, explain and stop - as sharing sexual images of others is a criminal offence.
The 2016 UK NSPCC/Office of the Children’s Commissioner England study found that just over one in ten boys and girls (13%) had taken topless pictures of themselves (around one in four of those were girls) and 3% had taken full length naked pictures. 55% of the children had shared the images with others. What's more frightening is that 31% of this group had also shared their image with someone that they did not know.
Some kids are not aware of the cybercrime element - thinking it innocent fun.
Research conducted by ‘The Key’ found that 61% of its secondary school head teacher members reported ‘sexting’ as a being a serious issue. Placing it higher than drugs, obesity and offline bullying in terms of frequency of reporting as a concern.
Research from the PSHE Association similarly found that 78% of parents were either fairly or very concerned about youth generated sexual imagery, more than the 69% who were concerned about alcohol misuse and 67% concerned about smoking.
Photographing, possessing and distributing any imagery of someone under 18 is legally ‘indecent’. This includes imagery of yourself if you are under 18.
The relevant legislation is contained in the Protection of Children Act 1978 (England and Wales) as amended in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (England and Wales).
If cases are prosecuted, the Court in the form of Judge, Magistrate or Jury will determine its legality and appropriate action. They will consider taking action over overtly sexual partially clothed under 18 year old.
Case study A: Children and young people aged 13-18
Concern: • Two children, both aged 15, were in a relationship for the past month.
The boy wanted a “sexy” picture and she sent him a topless photo. Afterwards the girl was worried that he might share the photo so she shared her concerns with her friends. Her friends then told their form tutor who spoke with the school digital liaison officer
• The DSL spoke with the girl and then the boy. Both pupils confirmed there had not been any sexual activity between them. There were not any wider safeguarding concerns about either pupil. There was no evidence that the image had been shared by the boy and he offered to delete the image from his device.
• Both pupils were spoken with by the DSL who advised them on the potential impact of taking and sharing youth produced sexual imagery both criminally and emotionally. The DSL worked with both pupils to help them come up with an agreed plan to inform their parents. The school DSL documented the incident as well as the actions taken in the children’s safeguarding records.
Case study B: Children aged under 13
Concern: • A teacher found a naked photo of a child (boy, aged 11) on a school tablet.
The child said that he had been using the tablet with two other children during lunchtime and they dared him to take a picture of his bottom.
• The school had no other safeguarding concerns about the children or their families. The school DSL spoke with the local authority education safeguarding team and subsequently accessed the local safeguarding board’s guidance regarding underage sexual activity. This tool indicated that the behaviour was likely to be inappropriate but did not meet the threshold for a referral to children’s social care.
• The school DSL spoke with the children involved and their parents and advised them on the situation and possible consequences including possible police and social care involvement. The children were sanctioned in school for their behaviour and the parents were fully supportive of the school’s approach.
• All members of staff were provided with updated internet safety training and a reminder of the school online safety and acceptable use policy to ensure that children were not left unsupervised with school tablets. The school documented the incident and the actions taken in the children’s safeguarding records.
BeSecureOnline are the leading partners for F-Secure. We sell F-Secure SAFE in both the UK and Ireland. Additionally, we sell and support online safety software including parental control software. We also sell the low cost Windows F-Secure 'Internet security' for windows only, and for online privacy we have the VPN software F Secure FREEDOME.
Based in London and Dublin, our team also provide internet safety talks for kids and teens. These are critical for internet safety in schools and at home. We speak directly to issues facing children online including sexting and cyberbullying.
Sexting amongst children is happening - there is no denying it. It is vital that these topics are addressed if we wish to avoid them getting out of hand.
For more information about our internet safety talks for kids and teens, please contact us.