UK Police have revealed that the number of children partaking in the past time of sexting is in the thousands.
Horrifying revelations from the UK police show that thousands of kids are sexting, causing them to get in trouble with the law. According to police records, there are now over 4000 cases on file since 2013, containing evidence of children under the age of 18 taking explicit images and videos of themselves, and sharing them on social networks. Alarmingly, County Durham police caught and interviewed a child aged only 5, who they discovered had sexted.
In the UK it is against the law to “possess, take or distribute images of anyone under 18.” It would seem obvious that many teens are at risk of indulging in sexting with their burgeoning sexuality at puberty. Terrifyingly, however, many children on the police records are in fact pre-pubescent.
Figures revealed by police show that in the past three years in England and Wales, authorities have interviewed around 400 children under the age of 12.
Debate for a solution to child sexting
The debate in the public and expert arena about how the law should resolve the problem is split. On one end of the debate, some experts, such as psychiatrist Abdullah Kraam believe that children’s sexualized behavior is sinister. He sees it as a sign that a child could grow up a pervert and criminal. Kraam suggests referring children caught sexting to social workers.
On the other side of the debate, many worry about the law beginning to criminalize children. The Chairman for the Campaign for Real Education, Chris McGovern suggests giving a gentle education is more valuable. Natalie Smith works with a young people’s theater group that aims to deal with pertinent issues that children and teens face. Essentially, she believes most children will indulge in sexting due to their naivety over its ramifications.
What exactly is sexting?
According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), sexting is the act of sharing sexualized nude or semi-nude images or videos of yourself or other people to others. It even involves sending sexual content in text messages. Other terms used for sexting include “pic for pic,” “trading nudes” or “dirties.”
Why are young people sexting?
In reality, only a small number of children explore sexting for disturbing reasons. However, most young people are doing it for more innocent reasons such as attention seeking or peer pressure.
However, it is likely victims of sexual abuse who utilize sexting for disturbing reasons. Ultimately, these victims deserve protection and gentle correction. It is counter-productive for the law to give them a life-destroying criminal record.
Young people will always explore their sexuality, and we live in a modern culture that encourages this. The media and our culture bombard children with sexualized images. What is worse, is that the media bombards the public in a way that they have never done before in history.
Much of the root-cause of children indulging in over-sexualized behavior, such as sexting, is that the majority of adult role models they have are projecting sexualization of themselves as normal.
Adults should take responsibility by no longer presenting a double standard about sexuality to children. Ultimately, children will continue to feel confused about what is and what is not appropriate behavior.
Prosecute the parents?
Additionally, another move by the UK government to crack down on sexting is potentially legislating to prosecute parents. Legally, the parent owns most devices utilized by children under 18. Therefore, authorities see parents as the responsible party for any activity on the devices.
There are steps parents can take to educate and prevent their children sexting. Parents should advise their children that sexting is not private. Furthermore, as soon as they send a sexualized image, the recipient can then send it to countless other individuals and humiliate them.
Sadly, children must understand that people are automatically not trustworthy if they ask for sexualized pictures of them. In fact, they and their parents should report them to the police. Most importantly, be clear and concise when impressing upon the child the illegality of sexting under the age of 18. Importantly, reassure them that the illegality is for their protection.
If sexting has already affected your child, The NSPCC encourage parents to reassure, listen and support them. Ultimately, the child will likely feel much shame, therefore punishing will only make the situation worse.
Additionally, if your child doesn’t wish to talk to you, let them know they can talk anonymously to an organization like Childline. If they have been the recipient of sexting requests, and the source is an adult, it is important to immediately contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. These contact details are applicable to UK readers.