Media Report – 14yr old 'Sexting' – Our Response
According to Wikipedia – Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages, primarily between mobile phones. Often it is not the act that is the problem, many times people will send each other intimate images and these will stay between those involved. The problem arises when these images are shared outside of the intended receiver. The issue then becomes even more impactive when the image is shared on the internet, especially when the individual in the image is named. This can be very distressing for the sender and the scalability, durability and audience around the image viewing on line can be life affecting in the worse scenarios. This constant record of sexual imagery can very much affect the future of our children.
The recent news story about a 14yr old boy involved in a sexting incident and the issues raised from this has once again heightened concerns around the criminalisation of children. As well as the legal side it has also highlighted the vulnerability of schools in how they tackle these reported incidents. At the South West Grid for Learning we have carried out research with partners the University of Plymouth and the NSPCC which leads us to believe a large number of todays’ children consider sexting to be a ‘normal’ behaviour. Schools throughout the world are dealing with this every day and laws surrounding images were often created before the digital revolution occurred. Consideration is often given to the illegality of the images but sometimes misses the very real impact the image being circulated can have on a child who has sent out a naked or semi naked image to someone they have trusted.
We are striving to improve school knowledge around the effects of sexting and continue to work with all professionals around coping strategies and resources. Some time ago SWGfL prepared a resource for young people called ‘So you got naked online‘ which has since been taken up by other countries across the world.
Other resources for schools around the subject can be found in the likes of the peer driven plays created to feed the messages to all children at Childnet and ‘With friends like these‘ The Child Exploitation Online Protection centre also has a hard hitting film resource called Exposed which can be found at www.thinkuknow.co.uk