Should a child be labelled a ‘sex offender’ when involved in sexting with another child? How should the police and organisations such as schools respond to the rapidly developing world of sexting? The College of Policing (“CP”) last year produced a briefing note ‘Police Action in Response to Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (Sexting)’ which aims to develop a more robust and consistent response to sexting incidents among under 18s. This follows the publication of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges on managing incidents of sexting by under 18’s.
With the emergence of new technology, it is sadly not surprising that it is used by some for purposes other than intended, including to gain access to groom and manipulate children. Increasingly, children have access to the internet via their phones and tablets. Historically paedophiles have entered organisations (such as schools, sports, youth and faith groups) to enable them to come into contact with children, whereas now they can gain access to children online through the use of various websites and apps.