Advice for parents concerned about children sexting
Child safety group Internet Matters has released a new list of tips for parents who are concerned about their children taking part in sexting.
Here are the full list of guidelines:
1. Sexting could lead to bullying.
Young people may see sexting as a harmless activity but taking, sharing or receiving an image can have a long-lasting impact on a child's self-esteem, of inappropriate content can lead to negative comments and bullying and can be very upsetting.
2. It could affect your child's reputation.
Explicit content can spread very quickly over the internet and affect your child's reputation at school and in their community both now and in the future. It could also affect their education and employment prospects.
3. It is against the law.
When children engage in sexting they're creating an indecent image of a person under the age of 18 which, even if they take it themselves, is against the law. Distributing an indecent image of a child - e.g. sending it via text - is also illegal. It's very unlikely that a child would be prosecuted for a first offence, but the police might want to investigate.
4. It is good to talk.
The time to talk about sexting with your child is as soon as they start using the internet or get a mobile phone.
5. Use the 'T-Shirt Test'.
Remind your child that once an image has been sent, there's no way of getting it back or knowing where it will end up. Ask them to think before they send a picture of themselves: 'would I want my family, teachers or future employers to see it?' - try the t-shirt test, if they wouldn't wear it on a t-shirt, don't send it.
6. Have a response ready.
Talk to your child about having some responses ready if they are asked to send explicit images. A simple "No I will not be doing this, so never ask me again" will suffice. If you want something wittier, ChildLine has produced a free app - called Pipit - which has witty images to send in reply, such as a picture of a pair of blue tits with the slogan "here you go".
7. Show you understand.
Empathise how your child may feel pushed into sending something even though they know it isn't the right thing to do. Help them to understand that the results of giving in to pressure could be much worse than standing up to it.
8. Explore the facts.
If you're child has been sent a sext, find out who the content was shared with initially, who it was passed on to, whether it was done maliciously or was a joke gone wrong.
9. Call the school
Your child's school will be able to help you deal with the repercussions and support your child at school. If the image has been shared with other children in the school they should have a process for dealing with it and will be able to help stop the image being shared any further.
10. Report it
If you suspect the image has been shared with an adult, contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), who are the national policing lead for online child sexual exploitation.
11. Contact the website or provider.
Social networking sites should remove an image if asked. If the image has been shared via a mobile phone, contact the provider who should be able to provide you with a new number.
12. Contact ChildLine
If your child calls ChildLine and reports the image, they will work with the Internet Watch Foundation to get all known copies of the image of your child removed from the internet.