Tag Archives: selfie

Sexual Exploitation Service Manager Discusses Sexting

Tash Bright No Comments

During our Let’s Talk About Sexting campaign, we have been encouraging young people, parents and carers to learn more about sexting and why it occurs at the rates that it does and what the potential risks of sexting could be. Last week we looked at real life instances of young people sexting and the ways it has effected young people’s lives. This week we spoke with Sheffield Futures’ Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service Manager, Jane Fidler, to better understand how the young people she has worked with view sexting and what can be done to prevent young people from feeling anxious, depressed and in the worst cases, suicidal because of the consequences of sexting.

In part one of our interview with Jane, we look into the reasons young people sext as well as the consequences.

 

Next week we will be speaking to a parent whose child has been involved with sexting

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

Revenge Porn Helpline – http://www.revengepornhelpline.org.uk/ or call on 0800 6000 459

Real Cases of Sexting – The Impacts and Effects

Tash Bright No Comments

So far, our Lets Talk About Sexting campaign has looked into the reasons why young people might sext, the laws around sexting and also the consequences of young people sexting. This week we will focus on real life cases of how sexting has impacted some young people’s live. The range of consequences differs widely and each case and individual is different.

It is important to understand that the law criminalising sexual imagery of young people was created to protect young people from adults and sexual abuse, not criminalise young people. None the less, where police have been notified, the incident will be listed as a ‘crime’ and the young person involved will be a ‘suspect’.

 

A teenage boy added to police database for 'sexting'

In some instances, sexting may have no repercussions or it may be easily resolved between two people. Unfortunately, where sexual imagery of young people is created, stored or distributed, young people could be added to the police database.

A 14-year-old boy in the north of England was added to a police intelligence database last year after sending a naked picture of himself to a female friend. The unnamed teenager was warned that if he ever applies for a job that required advanced criminal record checks, for example if he wanted to work with children, the incident could be “flagged”.

After taking a sexual image of himself, the teenager sent it to a girl he was flirting with via Snapchat. The girl who received the Snapchat message took a screenshot of the image and shared it with her friends. The picture was then brought to the attention of the school.

In this case the boy was seen as the person in the wrong. If both himself and the girl in question were over 18, it would have been the boy who was treated as the victim, as the girl had shared his image without his permission and could be charged under new revenge porn laws. It is important to know how age effects laws.

The boy said he was “embarrassed” by the incident and now spends lunchtimes in the library to avoid being teased by classmates who claim to still have the image. He said: “I shouldn’t have done it. It’s just annoying really, something that I did when I was 14 could reflect badly in future.”

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Teenage girl given police caution for sending explicit selfie to boyfriend

A teenage girl received a police caution after sending sexual imagery of herself to her boyfriend. She sent the image to him from her phone and after they had an argument, he distributed the image to his friends.

The police became involved as the girl was under 18 meaning both parties were committing an offence. The girl was committing an offence because she had taken sexual imagery of herself and shared it and the boy was committing an offence as he distributed the image. He also did it with the intent of causing distress or harm.

Both received a caution but police are now warning other teenagers they could end up on the sex offenders register if they send explicit pictures of themselves via text messages or social media.

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Amanda Todd blackmailed relentlessly by online predator

Worst case scenarios of sexting have led to blackmail, depression and even suicide. Amanda Todd’s name has become synonymous with sexting and cyber bullying and it is probably the most high profile case of sexting to date.

Amanda Todd was a Canadian teenager who suffered at the hands of an online predator and took her life at the age of 15. She created a video explaining her ordeal weeks before she committed suicide. After speaking with a man who had flattered her online she ‘flashed’ him but the man took a picture of her breasts. He asked her to put on another show for him, but she refused. The man then found her classmates on Facebook and sent them the photograph. To cope with the anxiety, Todd descended into drugs and alcohol and ill-advised flirtations and sex. Her classmates ostracised her. She was forced to move school but the images were sent to the new school as well. Amanda suffered from anxiety, major depression and panic attacks and attempted suicide a few times before finally succeeding.

The 38 year old Dutch man who blackmailed and harassed Amanda relentlessly is suspected of blackmailing dozens of young women from the United States into performing sex acts on their web cams. He will be extradited to Canada to face trail after his trial in the Netherlands, which will begin early next year.

 

Alanna regrets getting caught sexting but doesn’t regret the act itself

Alanna McArdle spoke as an adult about how she had enjoyed using webcams as a 13 year old with the boys in her school. She explained how it had helped her explore her sexuality. She had wanted to be sexual and engage in sexual activity but it was the reaction from adults, once the activity became common knowledge amongst parents and teachers, that effected her perception of herself. She says: “I had an arrangement with around five or six boys in my year at school when I was 13 years old. I would log on to MSN Messenger almost immediately after I got home from school”.

Alana’s story is interesting as it uncovers how little is known and understood about childhood sexuality and how we progress into adults and what behaviour may or may not be ordinary or acceptable.

Alanna said: “I walked into school on the first day of Year 9, I knew that everyone knew. My parents knew; the other children’s parents knew; I’m pretty sure that every teacher at my very small school knew…As a semi-beginner’s introduction to double standards, the boys involved escaped any visible punishment in school. They got some pats on the back from their peers. I, on the other hand, was a slut… The boys around me were expected to be sexual. But my own desires and enjoyment? They were unacceptable.”

Alanna’s case mirrors a common situation in which young girls often face harsher social consequences than boys for sexting. NSPCC research discovered that sexism was normalised for contexts for all relationships on and off line meaning girls consistently received consistently higher rates of bullying, scrutiny, violence and blackmail for sending pictures than boys, who were often praised and got ‘ratings’ from their peers for receiving nude pictures from girls.

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17 year old boy labelled a pervert

James, a 17 year old teenager who called Childline, was labelled a pervert after he sent a sexually explicit video to his girlfriend. He said: “My friends and I talk very openly about sexting, our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we’ve sent each other. So it can seem like everyone’s doing it.”

The fact that sexting has become somewhat normal within our society can often lead young people to underestimating the risks that could occur. James said: “There are definitely risks involved. Someone saw a video message I had sent to a previous girlfriend, took a screen shot and posted it online. They called me a pervert and lots of people I knew saw it – it was clearly me pictured.”

Once an image or text has been sent, it cannot be unsent. It is easy to lose control of an image as you cannot guarantee where it will end up and who will see it. This can lead young people (and adults) to feeling a severe humiliation and a sense that things have spiralled out of their control. James said: “I was completely devastated and, to be honest, almost suicidal. I got the picture taken down eventually, but by that stage people had ‘unfriended’ me and the damage was done.”

 

It is always important to think before you send a text or image of the consequence that could ensue. How would you feel if your parent saw the picture, or your teachers and classmates. Think of the cases above and how it affected these young people’s lives.

 

Next week we will be speaking to a child exploitation expert about sexting

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

Revenge Porn Helpline – http://www.revengepornhelpline.org.uk/ or call on 0800 6000 459

What Are the Risks of Young People Sexting?

Tash Bright No Comments

When talking about the risks of sexting, it is often assumed that young people do not know the consequences of sharing sexual imagery. Findings from SPIRTO have shown that many young people do know the risks and try to manage these risks by leaving their face out of pictures or using apps like Snapchat.

This week, our Let’s Talk About Sexting Campaign looks into the consequences of sexting and how gender often plays a role in how young people are treated once it has been discovered they have sent sexual imagery.

There are many reasons why young people might sext, which we looked in to last week. Young people may start sending ‘nude pics’ as a way of boosting their self-esteem. They could be pressured into sending pictures or young people may sext as a way of exploring their sexuality as part of their natural curiosity about sex.

It is important to remember that even though looking into the consequences of sexting may be shocking, it is important not to jump to conclusions and judge young people harshly if it has been discovered they have sent sexual images. It is often detrimental to punish young people for sexting, as it acts to deter young people from sharing issues they may be facing and seeking help. The aim of looking into the consequences of sexting is to raise awareness of the risks and legalities that could occur, with the main aim being protecting young people from child abuse

1. Loss of Control

In this digital age we live in, it is easy to quickly share our experiences and detail our lives through pictures via social media. Unfortunately, once a picture has been sent you cannot be sure where it may end up. This is especially important to consider before sending sexual imagery, because once an image has been shared, things can quickly spiral out of control and the young person may no longer know who their picture might have been forwarded to. Digital footprints are notoriously hard to erase.

Young people that have had negative experiences with sexting often talk about the feeling of losing control and things quickly escalating to the point where they felt overwhelmed. This sense of despair was detrimental to their health and well-being and in some cases led to feelings of anxiety, depression, self-harm and in the worst cases – suicide.

It is important that young people contemplate how they might feel if the picture they are considering sending was seen by their classmates, shared on Facebook or seen by their parents.

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2.Sexting and Sexism

Research conducted NSPCC found that culturally pervasive sexist beliefs were rampant in secondary schools and acted as the backdrop in which sexting took place. The discovery that sexism was normalised for contexts for all relationships on and off line meant that girls consistently received harsher consequences (bullying, scrutiny, violence, blackmail) for sending pictures than boys, who were often praised and got ‘ratings’ from their peers for receiving nude pics from girls. The potential of new technology has added another way in which young people can achieve status with their peers. The sharing of images has been linked to young people, usually young men, vying for power within their peer group and using others, usually young women’s images as the means to do that.

As recent as this month, MPs across the country have begun recognising the need for increased awareness and education in schools addressing sexism that views women as objects of male desire and labels girls/women negatively whilst praising boys for the same behaviour. The same research showed that even when girls refused to participate in the sending of photos, this did not mean they were safe from the implications of this practice and routine forms of sexism. Boys who do not engage in getting ‘ratings’ from their peers for receiving pictures from girls were at risk of being labelled gay or anti-sex, while girls are bullied for being virgins if they don’t engage in sexting and ‘slut shamed’ when they do.

MP, Maria Miller stated this month; ‘It is difficult to explain why any school would allow girls to be subjected to sexual harassment and violent behaviour that has been outlawed in the adult workplace…Failing to reinforce what is acceptable behaviour could well be fuelling the ‘Lad Culture’ that the Government has already identified as a problem in colleges and universities.’

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3. Vulnerable to Blackmail

There are offenders that seek out sexual images of children and young people and they can be highly manipulative. They can use fear and blackmail or make the young person feel guilty, worthless or that they haven’t  got a choice. Whether young people send images of themselves to strangers or people they know, there is no guarantee where the pictures will end up. Once an offender has a picture of a young person, they may try to persuade them to send sexual images by saying they will be hurt or upset if the young person refuses. They may then continue to blackmail the young person into sending even more explicit pictures by threatening to post their images online or show them to people the young person knows (school/family) if they don’t send them more.

“What we’re seeing is abusers taking advantage and getting images out of young people and then blackmailing them for more by saying, ‘If you don’t do more for me, I’ll send these to your family and friends,'” Ceop’s head of education, Jonathan Baggaley, said.

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4. It is Illegal

It is illegal to produce, store or share sexual imagery of anyone under the age of 18, even if you are the person in the picture. It is important to keep in mind that though the age of sexual consent is 16, sending sexual imagery of anyone under 18 is illegal. The law criminalising indecent images of children was created to protect young people from adults and sexual abuse. It was not intended to criminalise children. None the less, where police have been notified, the incident will be listed as a ‘crime’ and the young person involved will be a ‘suspect’. Outcome 21 was created specifically for such cases and helps to formalise the discretion available to police when handling crimes such as youth produced content.

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5. Pictures Could be Uploaded on to Porn Websites

Once something has been sent, it cannot be unsent. Pictures and text are easily shared, especially when people are in trusting relationships. It is important for young people to understand that relationships may end and the once trusted partner may use the same pictures to humiliate them. There are whole websites dedicated to this act known as revenge porn. Pictures of sexually graphic content of the individual may have immediate consequences, such as images being uploaded and shared on porn websites for all to see or even going viral and becoming public knowledge to people at their school. In comparison, pictures that have been sent may resurface years later and effect job opportunities in the future and relationships in later life, so think before you send.

 

Next week we will be looking into real life instances where sexting has taken place and what the outcomes were.

 

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

Revenge Porn Helpline – http://www.revengepornhelpline.org.uk/ or call on 0800 6000 459

Lets Talk About Sexting

Tash Bright No Comments

Today, Sheffield Futures launches our new campaign, ‘Let’s Talk About Sexting’, to address the issues young people face regarding sexting and how we can prevent the often devastating consequences. Each week Sheffield Futures will be focusing on a specific issue surrounding sexting beginning with the legalities concerning sexting, so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Sharing photos and videos online is part of daily life. The availability and convenience of apps such as Snapchat, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instgram and Skype means that we are always increasing our digital footprint, which is notoriously hard to erase.

Currently 90% of 16-24 year olds and 69% of 12-15 year olds own a smartphone meaning more people than ever have the ability to quickly and easily record their lives and share experiences. With this is mind, it is important that you know the ins and outs of the laws surrounding sexting.

What is Sexting?

Sexting is defined as sending or posting sexually suggestive texts/images. People may have told you that sending ‘indecent’ imagery under the age of 18 is illegal. This created confusion because whether something is ‘decent’ can be dependent on the situation and may be different depending on the values of who you are speaking to. For this reason, the word ‘indecent’ has been replaced with ‘sexual’.

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At What Age is Sexting Illegal?

Even though the age of sexual consent is 16, it is illegal to produce, store or share sexual imagery of anyone under the age of 18.consent 16

What if I have taken a Sexual Image of Myself?

Whether you are the person in the picture or not does not make a difference when it comes to the law. Anyone under the age of 18 who takes a sexual selfie risks being prosecuted for creating child pornography.

 

What if I am under 18 but am in a relationship and sent a picture to my boyfriend/girlfriend?

In this case, both you and your partner are breaking the law, even if your partner didn’t ask for the picture. Possessing images of a young person under the age of 18 is illegal, even when both of you are under 18.

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I received a sexual image of someone under the age of 18. Can I share it with friends?

Even if you had nothing to do with the creation of the image, sharing such imagery is still breaking the law. Depending on the intent and malice in which the images were shared, will depend on the severity of the consequences.

Will I get a criminal record if I am found to be making, possessing or distributing imagery of anyone under 18?

The law criminalising indecent images of children was created to protect young people from adults and sexual abuse. It was not intended to criminalise children. None the less, where police have been notified, the incident will be listed as a ‘crime’ and the young person involved will be a ‘suspect’. Outcome 21 was created specifically for such cases and helps to formalise the discretion available to police when handling crimes such as youth produced content.

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Next week we will be focusing on why young people send sexual imagery.

 

If you are a young person who has been affected by sexting or are a parent or carer of a young person involved in sexting, you can contact the below helplines:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat athttp://www.childline.org.uk/Talk/Chat/Pages/OnlineChat.aspx

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5000, by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk, or by texting 88858. They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

The NSPCC has information and advice about sexting available on its website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/sexting/1

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