Backing for “Think Before You Send” campaign
Wakefield and district safeguarding children board is backing a new campaign to warn young people of the dangers of sharing sexual images to combat a growing 'sexting' problem in West Yorkshire.
Edwina Harrison, independent Chair of the Wakefield and District Safeguarding Children Board, said:
"Sexting is a behaviour that puts young people at risk and we are already working closely with the police and other partners to make sure we do all we can to offer advice and protection.
"It is all too easy to post pictures on social media and many children and young people will not realise what they are doing and how much danger they might be facing.
"I hope the young people will take notice of this campaign and seek help if they feel they are being pressured into posting explicit pictures or have done so without thinking through the possible consequences. Our message is very clear – think before you send – and if you are worried or frightened, seek help."
Cllr Olivia Rowley, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Wakefield Council said: "It is important that young people and children are aware of the risks of sexting. So I whole-heartedly support this campaign for raising awareness of such a serious issue, and for advising young people on what to do if they need help."
West Yorkshire Police and partners are advising under 16's of the negative impact either requesting or sharing sexual images can have on their lives and their futures, following increased reporting of the offence.
The new 'Think before you send' campaign features advice for victims and messages warning those who request 'sexual images' that they are potentially committing criminal offences.
Councils and children safeguarding boards in Wakefield, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale are supporting the campaign together with Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson and the Crimestoppers charity.
Police investigated 29 'sexting' style offences reported between May 1 2013 and April 30 2015, all of which involved offenders and victims under 16.
Of those, 26 were reported in 2015 with a number of the offences involving social media applications.
To help combat the issue, authorities have launched a new webpage featuring help and advice for those being pressured to send explicit sexual images.
Specific posters and postcards have also been designed to be distributed amongst youth and community groups for the campaign which has been developed with young people.
To support it, officers will also be working with local authority colleagues to warn young people about sexting at events and engagements, and then in schools from September onwards.
Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Sexting' is an activity we have become increasingly aware of amongst young people and many may not realise that what they are doing is illegal or that it may be potentially harmful to them in the future.
"Those who encourage people under 16 to take sexually explicit pictures of themselves should be under no illusion though that what they are doing is a criminal offence which will be investigated.
"This could lead to you getting into trouble with the police, affect your chances of getting a job and even limit the countries that you can travel to."
She added: "Any image of yourself that you send, can and might be shared by the person you sent it to, or even used for blackmail. Remember, once you press send you press send, 'you can't undo and can't go back.'
"I would urge teenagers to think about when someone might ask you to send a naked or indecent image.
If someone is trying to or has forced you to send a sexual image of yourself to them you should call police on 101 and tell someone you can trust. This could be a parent or carer, teacher or family member. You may feel uncomfortable about telling your parents but they will need to know so that they can help and support you. To find out more visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/sexting
You can call also call Childline free on 0800 1111 and this number won't appear on a telephone bill. Available 24 hours a day.
To make a report click on the following link and follow the instructions: www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-report/"