18/03/2016

School children warned of the dangers of sexting

Today is National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Day and as well as Cleveland Police taking part in the National campaign, children in a Billingham Secondary School are being warned of the dangers of storing and sending indecent images on their phones.

Sexting Game

Police are asking young people at Northfield Secondary School to take part in a dice game to demonstrate the consequences of what can happen to the photograph and how it may result in a conviction at court.

Temporary Chief Constable, Iain Spittal said: “CSE is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

“It is vital young people can identify when they are in a situation causing them concern or harm; whether it be physical or through coercive or controlling behaviour and recognise that it is completely unacceptable.  There are many agencies young people can turn to for help - we have been working with our partners to ensure CSE issues are at the forefront of our priorities and today we want to reach as many young people in our community to ensure they are aware that this behaviour is not acceptable. 

“I also want to as send a message to the perpetrators that we will seek to secure a conviction in cases brought to our attention. We want everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children and children forming inappropriate sexual relationships with their peers.”

Inspector Cath Galloway added: “All too often young people have sent what they thought was a ‘private’ photograph of themselves only to find it has been forwarded on to others.  The immense stress this can cause, knowing there is nothing you can do to retract the photograph once it has been sent has caused a great deal of misery to these young people.

“I hope that by bringing this ‘game of chance’ into schools we will educate young people to the dangers of this practice and the dire consequences it can lead to.

“I want to draw attention to the fact that safeguarding children is everyone’s business.  Any child can be sexually exploited no matter what culture, ethnicity, religion, whether a boy or a girl from any background.

Headteacher Craig Walker added: “I would like to commend Cleveland Police for their proactive response to an issue that could easily damage the lives of our young people. At Northfield, our students are taught how to use the internet and social media safely and responsibly. However, we are very conscious about the potential consequences of an unguarded moment or thoughtless act. Our young people need our help and I’m very happy that Cleveland Police are helping us provide that help.”

Download the game here