The Times is reporting on an investigation it has undertaken that has found tens of thousands of schoolchildren have been caught sharing sexual imagery online in the past three years.
The paper claims that an analysis of data from 50 of our biggest secondary schools identified 1,218 pupils who had either sent or received a sext since 2012 (with more than one in ten cases involving a “non-school adult”). More than a third of all the cases involved children aged 12 and 13
If scaled up nationally, they report, this would suggest 44,112 secondary school pupils will been caught sexting in the past three years. However, they also suggest the figures, released under freedom of information laws, are likely to underestimate the practice as many cases will never come to a school’s attention.
In response to the data, the paper says politicians and child-protection groups have reiterated calls for mandatory sex-education classes. Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities select committee, is quoted:
“There has been historically a very negative attitude to making sex education compulsory from the government, but I think the tide is turning,”
“I have changed my position on it. I used to think it should be schools who decide what’s appropriate but the way the internet is impacting on young people’s lives — and particularly young girls — leaves them in need of far greater support. We have to make sure that we have teachers and organisations who are specialists in these areas to be able to tackle it properly.”
The paper also note that Maria Miller urged Nicky Morgan to make it compulsory for schools to report any sexting by or to under-18s to the police:
“It shouldn’t be under schools’ discretion… It is an illegal act.”
Deputy head Helen Harris is quoted:
“Sexting is extremely common and increasing, Girls do not appear to care that their images will be there for ever or that strangers will be viewing them. They think we are very old fashioned and everyone does this and it’s no big deal. Increasingly parents agree and think we are overreacting.”
An NSPCC spokesperson, reacting to the figures, is quoted:
“It’s extremely worrying that so many younger pupils are sharing explicit images of themselves, particularly as in one in ten cases these were sent to adults.”
“Sexting can make young people targets for sex offenders or set them up for bullying by their peers. These figures reflect our experience that sexting among children is now seen by them as part of everyday life.”
The paper also reports that fifteen of the schools they contacted said they had no mechanism in place for recording sexting casesl.
More at: Schools hit by sexting epidemic (subscription may be required)
Your reactions to the apparent scale of the problem uncovered by the Times here?
Do you think schools have appropriate systems in place to both discourage and deal with incidents of sexting?
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