A new study conducted by Plymouth University and UK Safer Internet Centre supported by the NSPCC, reveals new concerns and trends in 'sexting' amongst teenagers.
The qualitative study engaged with 120 13-14 year olds and 30 10-11 year olds and concluded that:
- Sexting is considered almost routine for many 13-14 year olds.
- Young people are unwilling to turn to adults for help due to fear of being judged.
- Young people think that issues around sexualised online content (both pornography and self-generated content) should be discussed in school.
- Younger children (10-11 years olds) are still largely safe from exposure to sexualised content.
David Wright, Director of UK Safer Internet Centre (SWGfL), said: "Technology and the internet offer amazing opportunities but in some aspects have contrasting issues and threats; issues that can have devastating consequences, especially for our children and young people.
"Whilst illustrating the latest attitudes amongst children, the study also has some clear messages for schools; that children want the opportunity to discuss these subjects but at the same time wouldn't report an issue to their teacher. Clearly there is much work to do, although the UK Safer Internet Centres new sexting resources (October 2012) for schools and children can help inform and support in such situations."
Jon Brown, sexual abuse lead at the NSPCC, said: "We are starting to see the regular and normalised consumption of hardcore pornography among young people and this has led to the sharing of explicit self-generated sexual imagery.
"Good quality sex education is absolutely critical. It needs to be age-appropriate, but if we are to be able to help young people navigate their way through these pressures, it also needs to start in primary school. We need to teach young people about respecting themselves and respecting each other.
"Parents should not be afraid of talking to young people about this issue. And young people who feel they can't approach a trusted adult can call ChildLine for advice and support."