01 Dec 3 years in prison & £25,000 fine for sexting
It seems that every week there are news stories around the issue of pornography and over the past few months, there has been a spate of stories on legal debates and scandals surrounding the issue of ‘sexting’ (sexually explicit photographs or messages sent to another person via texting).
Take the story of William Willock, vice-principal and child protection officer of a school in Kent, who emotionally manipulated a teenager into sending ‘sexts’ four years ago. The story has received media attention this week because not only has Willock been given a three-year criminal sentence but the victim has also received £25,000 compensation. This sentencing, however, has not been met with total celebration; the NSPCC has warned that the law could enable young people to receive large amounts of money from people. They argue that it is important for victims to get justice but it’s equally important to educate children about not sharing this kind of explicit material.
Whilst we aren’t totally convinced that there will be hoards of young people attempting to claim compensation for their naked selfies, we couldn’t agree more that education is necessary. We know that 44% of British girls aged 13-17 have sent sexual images of themselves and that sexting is now considered normal with many, like Willock’s victim, feeling forced or pressured to send images. Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of the issue is that whilst 70% of teenagers who sext do so with their girlfriend or boyfriend, 15% of sexters said that they have sent images to people they have never met or know from the internet.
The reality is that once a photo has been sent, the creator has no control over it and 36% of teens said that it is common for these photos to be shared with someone other than the intended recipient. These images regularly end up being excessively shared, posted on social media or even on pornographic websites, opening up young people to being targeted for grooming and exploitation, in extreme cases.
Zoe Hilton, Head of safeguarding at CEOP Command, said: “Something that has started out as relatively innocent or normal for the young people involved has unfortunately turned into something that is quite nasty and needs intervention in order to safeguard and protect the child.”
We’d really encourage you to talk to any young people that you know about the issue of staying safe on the internet and resisting the temptation to get involved in sexting, even when the pressure feels immense. If you’re unsure where to start then here are some helpful websites:
You can also read the BBC article on the Willock case here:
Click here for our blog post “talking to your kids about sexting”
 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Teenage Sexting Statistics.” GuardChild. Accessed April 14, 2014. http://www.guardchild.com/teenage-sexting-statistics/>
 National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Teenage Sexting Statistics.” GuardChild. Accessed 1st Dec 2015.
 Zoe Hilton, Head of Safeguarding at CEOP Command featured on This Morning Breakfast show