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If you want to ask a question or talk through any issues or concerns, call the Stop it Now! confidential, freephone helpline on 0808 1000 900.

The helpline is available from 9am-9pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-5pm Fridays. Alternatively you can contact us for help and advice via email at this address: help@stopitnow.org.uk, with a response in 48 hours.

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Did You Know?

• 38% of 13-18 year olds have received a sexually explicit message.
• 39% admit sharing intimate images.
• 40% do not see anything wrong with sending topless images.
• 56% are not aware of instances where images and videos were distributed further than the intended recipient.
• 70% knew the sender; the majority were peers or current girlfriends or boyfriends. A small minority were from known adults.*

*Survey conducted by ‘South West Grid for Learning’ (SWGfL) & University of Plymouth over 500 13 – 18 year olds.

Sexting

What is sexting?

Sexting generally refers to the sending of sexually explicit images via text, email, MSN or through social networking sites. For example, this could be a picture of a boy or young man exposing himself or a young woman in a state of undress.

There could be many reasons why young people would want to take these sorts of pictures and send them to someone else. It could be that two young people who are in a relationship want to prove their love or commitment to each other; it could be that someone is looking to start a relationship with someone else or it could be that they simply want to show off.

Background

Most young people today are entirely comfortable with recording their entire lives online – much like other generations used to do in a diary.

These days though, this often includes uploading and sharing photos, status messages on what has been happening in their lives or how they are feeling, and texting back and for. While this ‘finger on the pulse, share all’ culture has some benefits, it can also create an environment in which teenagers and young people make impulsive decisions without thinking through the possible consequences. Often times, they are only a click away from doing something digitally that they would not normally do in the real world.

Consequences

While sending sexually explicit messages or pictures carries enough problems of its own, it can have real consequences if the content is shared with others – either by people forwarding it on using messages or emails or by uploading it onto a social networking site or website. This could result in immediate consequences, possibly within the school environment, or more serious consequences for later in life such as if a prospective college, university or employer were to see it.

Top Tips:

  • Talk to your children about sexting and the consequences - don’t wait for something to happen. We know it isn’t always easy to talk about sex, dating and relationships with teenagers – but it is better to talk about these issues before something happens.
  • Remind your children that once an image is sent, there is no getting it back. Stress to your child that once they have sent an image, or posted it online, they no longer have control of it and it could end up anywhere. Ask them how they would feel if their teachers, parents, or their whole school saw what they had sent. 
  • Address peer pressure. Peer pressure can be a formidable force so make sure your child knows that you understand that they could be pushed into sending something. Talk to them about making positive decisions and be sure they understand that no matter how great the pressure becomes, the potential social humiliation could be a hundred times worse. Also let them know that they can talk to you about this pressure and how they can go about dealing with it. 
  • Make sure they take responsibility. Make sure your child understands that they are responsible for their actions. That includes what they choose to do if they receive a sexually explicit photo. Have them understand that if they do receive one, they need to delete it immediately. Tell them that if they do send it on, they're distributing pornography -- and that they could get into trouble with the police.

Resources 

This guide for schools offers teaching staff practical advice about what to do if sexting happens in school, highlights the steps that need to be taken and offers examples of best practice through case studies. It also gives an overview of the problem and offers an insight into the research and categorisation of sexting incidents. It highlights some activities that schools can do to highlight the issues and develop a 'whole school' approach.

CEOP – 'Exposed' video

 

Watch the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) video below. This 10 minute drama has been designed for 14 to 18 year olds and deals with the subjects of sexting and cyberbullying – both issues that teenagers commonly face. We recommend that you share this with your children.

 

That's not cool 

This website has been created to help young people and their parents understand how mobile phones, instant messaging and online profiles are all digital extensions of who we are. It aims to give the tools to help people think about what is, or is not, okay in their digital relationships. www.thatsnotcool.com

This short video from 'that's not cool' highlights some of the pressures young people can face when it comes to sending sexually explicit pictures. After you have seen it - share it with your children. 

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