Beatbullying, the UK’s leading bullying prevention charity has found that a third of under 18’s have been sent ‘Sexts’ and have raised their concern over this ever increasing trend amongst young people. Beatbullying carried out a survey on over 2,000 11-18 year olds in England to find out how technology influenced the way they communicate and how digital media was being used to bully and pressurise those around them. With mobile and internet technology advancing at a rapid rate, and with most mobiles having in-built bluetooth technology and cameras, sending images to one another is more popular than ever before. 29% of young people being surveyed said they were chatting online when they were introduced to sexual material they found offensive or upsetting. This material can end up being shared on social networking sites. Police have warned of the dangers sexting can have including loss of control and leaving young adults at the risk of being exploited by paedophiles and sexual predators. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre say that some of the material being circulated can find its way onto forums being used by child sex offenders. Young people have been blackmailed with their own pictures and paedophiles have also been found to pose as the person in the picture to trap other victims. Images most commonly being shared include boys exposing themselves or masturbating, girls that have removed items of clothing as well as sexual acts that could be considered as pornographic material. 70% of 11-18 year olds that were surveyed, were found to have known the sender of the sexually explicit message personally. 23% of messages were found to have come from a current partner, 45% from friends and 2% from adults.
What does the law state?
Taking, holding or sharing “indecent” materials is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
What can I do if I think my teen is involved in ‘sexting’?
Your teen might not be the one sending sexual content to others, but they might be on the recieving end. It is important to open up the channels of communication and be able to discuss this topic so they are aware of the implications. Why not start by having a chat about 'sexting' being featured on the news and see what their thoughts are on it? Make your teen aware of the fact that if they are sending any personal information/images across, that they are passing over control to whoever the reciepent is. Once that message has been sent, there is no way of retrieving it. As a parent you might never really know whether your teen has been involved in sexting, but by being able to talk things through with your teen you will have made them aware of the dangers they could possibly face.
Family Lives Top Tips
- Talk to your teen about relationships and let them know that respecting one another is important. They do not have to feel forced into doing anything they are not comfortable with and they can come and talk to you if they feel pressured.
- Encourage your child to report any incidents of sexual bullying whether they are involved or not.
- Make it clear that any incidents of bullying are unacceptable no matter where they are and that it will not be tolerated.
- Do not dismiss sexist language or behaviour as funny. Remember that you need to a role model for them and they will look to you to determine what is right and what is wrong.
Listen to what teens had to say when we asked them how they felt about social networking sites and tips on how you can help your child stay safe online (MP3 file)
If you are worried that your teen is involved or being targeted by sexting, watch the video below for tips to pass on to them to help them act safely and responsibly.