UK & World News

  • 23 July 2014, 6:16

Child 'Sexters' Given Prosecution Warning

Schoolchildren who send so-called "sexts" to people over the internet have been warned by one police force that they could face prosecution.

In a letter to schools in the county, Nottinghamshire Police's sexual exploitation investigation unit said the force had been receiving reports on a daily basis of naked images being sent between teenagers using their phones.

A "sext" is a self-generated explicit image which is sent to other people over the internet.

In one recent case, a teenage girl who sent a topless picture of herself to her boyfriend was investigated after it was deemed she had distributed an indecent image of a child.

The girl's boyfriend, who forwarded the image to his friends after they broke up, is reported to have been given a caution.

In the letter, Detective Inspector Martin Hillier warns that court action for such offences may even mean a child is forced to register as a sex offender.

DI Hillier wrote: "I have grave concerns over the amount of referrals Nottinghamshire Police are receiving on a daily basis in relation to naked images being sent between teenagers via either social networking, texts or mobile phone apps.

"It is crucial that children (under 18 years) understand that every internet site and social networking site is monitored by an administrator.

"When photographs that fall within the category of an indecent image (even if taken with consent) are uploaded, reports are made by the administrators to the police.

"If a person is aged over 10yrs and distributes (shares - even to friends) an indecent image then they can be arrested, charged and dealt with for this offence.

"If they are found guilty they must then register as a sex offender."

The officer stressed that pictures are almost impossible to remove from the internet after they have been uploaded.

"An individual's on-line reputation needs protecting as it stays with them for the rest of their life," DI Hillier added.

"I would like to make every school in Nottinghamshire aware of these offences and the implications of pupils' involvement in such behaviour."

Earlier this year, Nottinghamshire County Council's anti-bullying co-ordinator Lorna Naylor warned young people that such pictures could leave them vulnerable to blackmail.

"They can be deleted on social media or may only last a few seconds on apps like Snapchat, but images can still be saved or copied by others," she said.

"These images may never be completely removed and could be found in the future, for example when applying for jobs or university.

"Young people may think 'sexting' is harmless but it can leave them vulnerable to blackmail where someone may threaten to share the pictures with family and friends unless they send money or more images."