Sexting ‘now part of normal life for children’

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Children now see “sexting” as part of normal life with girls more likely to provide sexually explicit pictures of themselves through social media Smartphone apps, according to an anti-bullying report.

Instances of abuse and sexting, where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices, are on the rise and are having a serious detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of young people, officials at the Brighton-based charity, Ditch the Label, have claimed.

While 49 per cent of those questioned said they believed sexting was just a bit of harmless fun and 16 per cent said it was “the normal thing to do”, 13 per cent of young people claimed they had felt pressurised into sending explicit pictures.

Ditch the Label’s founder and chief executive officer, Liam Hackett, said: “We are particularly concerned about the amount of young people who are not reporting the abuse that they have received through fears that it isn’t going to be taken seriously.

“There is also a huge issue with the unauthorised distribution of sexually explicit images, which we have linked to some very severe health and welfare consequences for those who have had their private images shared.”

The national anti-bullying organisation surveyed 2,732 people aged between 13 and 25 and had published the findings in its Wireless Report.

The survey revealed that 62 per cent of young people had been abused through a Smartphone app, while 37 per cent had sent a naked photo of themselves, and 24 per cent had seen that image shared without their consent.

Girls were twice as likely to send a naked photo to someone than boys, according to the research.

Professor Ian Rivers, a psychologist at Brunel University, claimed the report highlighted that young people were unaware of the dangers of sending compromising images and called for a “discussion about online safety”.

Claire Lilley, the head of Child Online Safety at the NSPCC, added: “Young people will inevitably be curious about sex but they must understand that sexting can often have nightmare consequences.”