Social media use as we have already reported this week is prevalent among children, with an estimated 20% of children aged 8 to 11 years old said to have a social media profile in the UK, notwithstanding that the social media providers require all users to be over age 13 before having their own profile. The figure rises to 70% among children aged 12 to 15 years old1. The potential for online grooming is huge and is already being exploited as we have noted when commenting on the rise of sexting.
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.