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HomeNewsUrgent warning for parents after surge in children sending sexually explicit images

Urgent warning for parents after surge in children sending sexually explicit images


Parents have been told they must get comfortable speaking with their children about sexting as startling stats suggest a huge portion of under-18s have been sending explicit images of themselves to others.

Nearly two-fifths (39 percent) of the just over 2,000 Brits surveyed admitted to sharing explicit content while underage, and many report having their images misused or receiving unwanted sexual content. The survey by cybersecurity firm ESET also found a worrying lack of understanding of the law by young Brits.

Shockingly, 44 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believed it was legal to incite or encourage someone to send sexual images if they themselves are under 18. And almost three-quarters (73 percent) of those aged 12-17 regretted sending an intimate image or video of themselves.

Cybersecurity expert Jake Moore, who worked for 14 years investigating computer crime for Dorset Police, told Express.co.uk: “The biggest thing is to open up communication with kids. That’s what we’re realising is a big problem.

“The issue of sexting probably feels quite strange to parents because they didnt ahve access to devices 24/7 that could potentially send illegal images. Because of that, we shouldn’t avoid speaking to our kids about this issue.”

The average age at which respondents received their first sexual image from someone with 14 – with 25 percent of those under 19 saying they had received an unwanted video sent.

And there is also the danger of the content being misused further than just spreading it.

Mr Moore said: “Unfortunately it can lead to extortion – pressure to either send more images of a similar nature, or threatening to share with other people unless money is sent.

“Once these images are in the hands of others, you lose control. It can be especially damaging when young people don’t know where to turn – they don’t want to speak to their parents because they feel embarrassed.”

Over a quarter (28 percent) of British under-18s surveyed have had their intimate photos misused or have received an unwanted sexual image

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos added: “It’s a difficult topic to bring up with your kids, but to all those parents reading this, I would urge you to bite the bullet and have the conversation about sexting when you first talk to them about sex.

“Look at the resources that are available to help, be supportive rather than accusatory, help empower your child to think twice and normalise saying no in situations they may find uncomfortable.”

Another concerning finding from the data was the lack of understanding of the law surrounding explicit images.

44 percent of those surveyed mistakenly believed it is legal to incite or encourage someone to send sexual images if they themselves are under 18, while 20 percent mistakenly believed it was legal to send nude photos of themselves underage.

Meanwhile one in six owho shared intimate photos or videos did so because they felt pressured into doing so, and one in 10 said someone manipulated them into sending them.

It follows research from the Internet Watch Foundation that found that 90 percent of child sexual abuse imagery online is self-generated. Meanwhile, potential offenders are under 18 in more than half of reported child abuse cases, report the National Police Chiefs Council.

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