Recently Schools in Hampshire and Hampshire Police have been warning this week (9th December 2017) about the perils of sending inappropriate images and the possible consequences.
This is a topic that we frequently cover in Self Protection classes at the club, but the advice bears repeating online and documenting again.
According to research by the children’s charity Barnardo’s
“Last year alone police recorded 9,290 accusations of sexual offences where both the perpetrator and victim were under 18. This compares to 5,215 accusations being made in 2013, representing a 78 per cent rise.”
It’s worth remembering that although the age of consensual sexual intercourse is 16 it remains illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to take, possess, distribute or show anyone an abusive or indecent image.
If an under 18 takes a photograph of themselves and sends that to another under 18, then they have committed an offence, if the recipient keeps the image then they also have committed an offence. Solicitor Sandra Paul from Kingsley Napley LLP advises If this matter is brought to the Police/Courts attention when either party is over 18 years old, then that party will be treated as an adult even of they were under 18 at the time of the offence. If an image is sent between over 18s whilst this in itself may not be illegal, if the image is unwanted there can still be ramifications for harassment or blackmail.
There are cases where children as young as 10 years old have received a formal Police caution for sending pictures of himself to an 11 year old girl. Last year (2016) in November, Police issued guidance that they would treat cases sensitively and not seek to criminalise young people. They also noted the factors that they would consider in determining whether a criminal prosecution was appropriate including considering the long term side affects for the offender which included being placed on the sex offenders register. The advice given was that all offences of this nature had to be included for home office ‘counting’ purposes. Rather than being charged or cautioned with an offence (which will show up on any future DBS checks) an offender may be given a ‘Outcome 21’ which does not necessarily mean that the offence has to be reported to the DBS, rather it is at the discretion of the Chief Constable for each force. An ‘Outcome 21’ is best described as an offence committed which the Police believe has a strong probability of successful prosecution if carried forward, but which they believe is not in the public interest to prosecute.
As parents we sometimes forget how easily pornography is accessible on a smart phone, tablet or computer and because of this how desensitised our children can become to that. They then forget how dangerous and what the consequences are it they send images of themselves. As a parent you also have to decide if you should ‘keep an eye’ on your child’s devices and social media accounts with ‘sport checks’ to review them. Sure your children aren’t going to appreciate that, but can if help to keep them safe? Yes.
Sexting is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images, videos or texts. According to a NSPCC/ChildLine poll “6 out of 10 teenagers say they have been asked for sexual images or videos.” This affects children from Primary school upwards.
Under British law it is legal to have sexual intercourse aged 16, but it is illegal and a serious criminal offence to take, hold or share “indecent” photos of anyone aged under 18. Remember it isn’t normal to do this and it is against the law.
Once an image or video has been sent, the sender is no longer in control of where it ends up. With parents, friends, teachers and even employers able to see that image for a long time after it was sent. It can lead to you being blackmailed or exploited by others, bullied and being embarrassed or humiliated.
According to the BBC, Sexting is on the increase amongst teenagers and is also spreading to primary schools. The NSPCC helpline is reporting nearly a 30% increase in calls regarding this.
- Never be pressured into sending explicit videos or images of yourself or anyone else
- If someone tries to pressure you to sext, then immediately tell a responsible adult
- Remember private messages or even online storage systems aren’t 100% secure, don’t store confidential information where it can easily be ‘hacked.’
- Don’t allow anyone to ‘remotely take over’ your PC or mobile device
- Tell an adult if you’ve been asked to sext, they can help you.
- Parent talk to your kids about the perils of Sexting. Ignore is no excuse in the eyes of the law.
National Crime Agency