10-year-old among children sending x-rated ‘sexts’

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Children as young as 10 have bombarded other youngsters with x-rated pictures of themselves, a Gazette inquiry has revealed.

 Northumbria Police has undertaken 18 investigations into sexting, or sex-texting, since 2013, involving some suspects so young they can’t even legally open a Facebook account.

Parents are understandably worried.

Emma Lewell-Buck

“Parents are understandably worried about their children being exposed to inappropriate content, and new technology is making it harder to protect children,” said South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

“There is a real risk, not just of children sending inappropriate messages to each other, but of being blackmailed or exploited by online predators.”

 The Gazette’s figures, obtained through a 2000 Freedom of Information Act request, show that one primary school pupil, a 10-year-old boy, was spoken to by police after sending rude snaps through the instant messaging app ooVoo.

 Another 12-year-old boy admitted using his mobile to send vulgar images of himself to a girl. Both victims were just 11, at the time, an both culprits were cautioned.

 The Gazette’s figures, show that in almost half of the North East’s sexting investigations, no offender was matched to the crime, meaning that neither the police nor the victim know who sent the messages.

“If you discover your child has sexted, don’t shame them, which can drive the behaviour underground,” said online safety campaigner Alexis Vanni.

“Explain the risks – you never know what can happen once they are sent.”