What is sexting?
- Exchanging images of a sexual nature with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Sharing images of a sexual nature with someone you like.
- Passing on images of a sexual nature to groups of friends without permission.
What should you be concerned about?
Not many of us can look back at our teenage years without cringeing. But our coming-of-age mistakes weren't recorded for posterity. These days young people record their lives on a minute-by-minute basis. The images they create can be copied, manipulated, posted online and sent to other people in a matter of seconds. Ex-partners have been known to pass on images after a relationship has come to an end, as a means of revenge.
The police are concerned that sex offenders search for these kinds of images and may use them to blackmail the subjects.
You - or your child - could be breaking the law by taking, holding or sharing indecent images of a minor. And if these images are stored on a family computer, you, as a parent, could be implicated. Any image of a person under-18 sent may constitute an indecent image of a child, in legal terms, and be prosecutable under the Protection of Children Act 1978.
Sexting can be an aspect of bullying.
What can you do?
- Talk to children about the fact that images, once online, are there for all time - and you have no control over what happens to them.
- Urge your child to think before they post.
- Warn them against passing on images of others.
- Remember that it's normal for teenagers to do unwise things - how daft would you have been if you'd had a smart phone in your pocket?