Author: Stewart Paterson
Posted on: The Daily Mail | November 6th, 2017
New figures reveal sexting cases among youngsters have rocketed in two years
Reports come from children as young as 10 and cases peak at around age of 14
Police chief said he is concerned over impact of online pornography on children
Simon Bailey also said more must be done to rid social media of indecent images
Sexting cases involving children as young as ten have doubled in just two years, new figures have revealed.
Police forces in England and Wales registered 6,238 sexting offences, in which youngsters send indecent pictures of themselves or peers, in 2016/17 — a rate of 17 every day.
The total was up by 33 per cent, on the tally of 4,681 in the previous year, and 131 per cent on 2014/15 during which 2,700 cases were logged.
Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, has raised concerns over the impact of extreme pornography on youngsters.
‘There is a worrying upward trend in children sharing sexual images, particularly regarding children who pass on indecent images of others,’ Mr Bailey added.
‘Sharing and possessing these images is against the law. Once an image is shared with others it can cause deep embarrassment and distress.
‘I am concerned about the impact that exposure to extreme pornography can have on children so we need to consider if a lack of universal relationship and sex education is compounding the problem.
‘There is also undoubtedly more to be done to remove indecent imagery quickly and robustly from across social media platforms once it has been shared or posted without consent.’
The data relates to recorded offences involving indecent or prohibited images of children, where the suspect or offender is aged under 18.
Police said reports come from children as young as ten, with cases peaking around the age of 14.
Boys are as likely as girls to be recorded as suspects or perpetrators but girls are more likely to be recorded as victims, according to the findings.
They also appear to show a substantial decrease in cases during the month of August, coinciding with the school holidays.
The trend for sharing explicit images among youngsters has emerged as a challenging issue for authorities amid fears that children and teenagers could be routinely criminalized over the behavior.
Mr. Bailed added: ‘Sharing and possessing these images is against the law. Once an image is shared with others it can cause deep embarrassment and distress’
Last year the Home Office introduced a new outcome in crime recording rules which allows forces to log an offence without any formal action being taken as it is not in the public interest.
The outcome can only be used in cases where there is no evidence of exploitation or malicious intent.
Initial analysis indicates that the number of children facing charges in these cases has more than halved, with the newly created outcome used more than 2,000 times in 2016/17.
Mr. Bailey said: ‘Forces are risk assessing every case to ensure we are not unnecessarily stigmatizing children and saddling them with a criminal record.
‘But there will always be a criminal investigation where we see that young people are being coerced, exploited or blackmailed.’