Devon and Cornwall OPCC and Dorset OPCC with their respective forces have launched a campaign to educate young people and parents around the consequences of sexting.
Sexting is the term used for the sending or receiving sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos. It is illegal for anyone to take, send, receive or share these types of images of anyone under the age of 18.
Reports of under 18s sexting in Devon and Cornwall have nearly tripled in recent years from 115 reports (between November 2015 and October 2016) to 440 reports (between November 2016 and October 2017). Sexting amongst young people is an increasing issue which is reflected nationally, not just in Devon and Cornwall.
This increase in figures highlights the importance of educating young people about the consequences of sexting and encouraging parents to have open and honest conversations with their children.
Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said, “This campaign is an excellent opportunity to work jointly with our Dorset PCC and Police colleagues to tackle a modern day issue.
“Sexting is a growing concern as most young people now have, or have access to, a mobile device.
“It is important that young people understand the law surrounding sexting and the consequences it can have.
As a parent myself, I feel it is also vital that parents and guardians have an understanding of the topic and are provided with the correct tools and information to proactively talk to their children about the issue.
As an office we are committed to working with young people and their parents to engage with them around such issues.”
Superintendent Matt Lawler, Head of Prevention, from Devon & Cornwall and Dorset Police said: “Education and safeguarding is at the forefront of all we do with young people as a police force. We want to re-affirm to young people and parents that we are here to help when you need us.
“Devon & Cornwall Police’s primary concern is to avoid criminalising young people where it is not appropriate and we hope that by educating young people about sexting we can avoid this altogether.”
Advice for parents around sexting:
Talk to your children about sexting, the law and the potential dangers of sexting:
- 9/10 selfies end up somewhere else on the internet - when you press send, you lose control
- It’s illegal to take, send or receive ‘sexts’ of anyone under 18, including selfies!
- Not all teenagers are doing it, even if that’s what they tell their friends
- If they’ve done it and it’s gone wrong, speak to an adult they trust
If it has happened:
- Stay calm and support your child
- Take the device, don’t screenshot, don’t forward on
- Speak to your child’s school, they have the power to help
- Remember: it is illegal, but the police will always help young people and safeguard them in the first instance
Where and how to seek help:
- Parents and carers can get more information, with links to help and support, from Devon & Cornwall Police by visiting dc.police.uk/advice/parenting
- Young people can get more information, with links to help and support, from Devon & Cornwall Police by visiting dc.police.uk/youth/sexting
- Further information and advice for professionals can also be found at dcdhub.org/sexting.