Kidscape's plea for the education and not criminalisation of children found 'sexting'

Kidscape CEO Claude Knights comments on recent cases of 'sexting'

"Kidscape's main plea would be to guard against criminalising young people, as a growing number of teenagers are at risk of being unfairly labelled as sex offenders under current UK law.

"In practice some recent cases involving teenagers who have sent consensual explicit images to one another have resulted in attempts to take account of changes in behaviour due to the prominence of digital culture. Notwithstanding such incidents can remain on an individual's police file or can result in a caution.

"Today's teenagers spend much of their free time online and many social interactions, including flirtatious encounters, now happen in the cyber world, which is characterised by greater disinhibition and risk taking. We know that young people have always engaged in 'I'll show you mine, if you show me yours' behaviours, as they develop their sexual relationships. The digital age however takes the private to the public in seconds leaving an indelible footprint with huge consequences for the victim not least loss of control, mental distress, a sense of betrayal and reputational damage. In addition many young people do not realise that sexting can also lead to a criminal record.

"There is therefore a need for them to be made aware of all the potential consequences of sexting. The call for education as opposed to criminalisation should not be seen as a green light for sexting, but rather as a plea for us to help young people to understand the dangers and implications of sexting."

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