Young girls age 11 and 12 sending sexually explicit photos, email messages major problem at schools
Photos, messages in turn being used to blackmail girls as young as 11 years old
"Sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit emails and photos through Smartphones and social networking sites is an ongoing problem - at elementary schools! The problem is described as an everyday occurrence in some schools, and is a growing problem. Many times, these explicit messages backfire, and in lieu of drawing attention to these young ladies, they are used for blackmail and coercion.
In most instances, girls are persuaded to send boys explicit images of themselves. The photographs are then as blackmail through sharing via Facebook and Blackberry messaging.
The NSPCC reports that up to 40 percent of young people had been involved in sexting, chiefly due to peer pressure from other schoolchildren.
The Safeguarding Children Board in Manchester, England brought together teachers, social workers and police in order to address the issue. At the conference, officials heard how many schools are now installing forensic software to intercept explicit messages exchanged by pupils on school computers.
Increasingly sexualized media and video games may be at the root of this ongoing problem. One delegate related the story of how a seven-year-old boy liked how he liked playing the video game "Grand Theft Auto" "because you get to rape people."
"Sexting is something I deal with on a regular basis - it's quite prevalent in schools now, a daily problem," assistant head teacher at Westleigh High School Jo Coleman said.
"We have seen examples of it in children of 11 or 12 but generally it is in students from 14 onwards. A lot of it is where a teenage couple's relationship has broken down and the girl is blackmailed with the threat that the photos she sent when they were together will be shown to everyone.
"However, we're also starting to see sexually violent messages specifically targeting girls of ethnic minorities," she warns.
Be forewarned: Making or sharing a sexually explicit image of someone under 18 is definitely illegal - meaning teenagers who take photos of themselves and those who share them are both breaking the law.
Many teenagers are also unaware that an image they text to someone can be shared and reproduced online, remaining on the internet forever.
"Two years ago, the referrals coming in to us were for children around 16 years old - now they are 12 or 13, and that's a major concern," June Edmondson, a social worker at the Manchester Protect Team based at Moss Side police station says.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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