Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or images, primarily between mobile phones, although it could be equally done through social networking sites or other online media.
If a teenager is found to be in possession of an indecent image of another minor, this is an offence under the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988. They could face prison and be registered as sex offenders.
However, in November 2016, The College of Policing advised officers to respond "in a proportionate way" to children sharing indecent imagery of themselves or their peers. A Move welcomed by the NSPCC.
The new guidelines state that most offences involving sexual activity with children will require a "full criminal investigative response" - for example, in the presence of exploitation, coercion, a profit motive or adults as perpetrators. But it says: "Offences involving self-generated images or images obtained with consent by other children may be dealt with differently.
Advice for pupils:
- Always think of the consequences of sending a sexual image of someone who is under-age, even if the image is of you.
- Don’t take pictures of yourself that you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or classmates to see.
- Remember that if you forward a sexual image of someone underage, you are just as guilty as the original sender.
More information for pupils can be found in the topical assembly and lesson plans.