New guidelines on children ‘sexting’
Children who text intimate photographs of themselves to friends will no longer face prosecution and the possible lifelong effects of a criminal record under changes to the police guidance on how to deal with ‘sexting’, which could come into force within weeks once approved by MPs.
The proposed guidance will also advise head teachers on when to report sexting incidents to police. They will be asked to consider the ages of the children involved, if there has been coercion, if the images involve full frontal nudity and if the youngster has been engaged in sexting before.
Responding to proposed guidance, Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Protecting our children and young people from sexual exploitation and online grooming is something we are absolutely committed to here in Greater Manchester, and I’m glad to see the Government is engaging on this issue with these proposed guidelines.
“However, the issue of ‘sexting’ is a complex one. While we don’t want to criminalise our young people, it’s important that we don’t encourage them to put themselves at risk.
“In Greater Manchester, we’ve been doing a lot of work to raise awareness of peer-on-peer exploitation and educate young people about online safety and ‘sexting’. This includes working with schools and youth organisations and there is also a wealth of advice available at www.itsnotokay.co.uk for young people who may be tempted or are being pressured into sharing intimate images. Parents, carers and professionals can also get help on what to do if they have concerns.
“Across Greater Manchester, police, councils, NHS and voluntary services work closely to share information, safeguard vulnerable young people at risk of child sexual exploitation and target those who prey on them. This work, along with the It’s Not Okay campaign, has resulted in increased awareness of child sexual exploitation and more people are coming forward to report it.”