Teens urged not to post explicit pictures online after rise in reports of 'sexting'
Teenagers and young people have been urged by police to think twice about sharing sexually explicit pictures of themselves online.
The plea follows an increase in the number of reports received in Sunderland and South Tyneside about such pictures being posted on social network sites.
Officers are asking youngsters to think carefully about the content they post online and are reminding them that these images have the potential to be shared worldwide with strangers and online criminals.
Temporary Superintendent Sarah Pitt from southern area command said: "If you are posting images of a sexually explicit nature you are putting yourself at risk of unwanted contact from other teenagers, harrassment, bullying and exploitation from cyber criminals.
"Never send or share an explicit image in a text or over the internet. However much you trust the person you are sending it to, you have no idea where it could end up.
"It's also important to be aware that you may also be committing a criminal offence for which you could be arrested.
"The consequences of this could follow you into your adult life, and in certain circumstances may affect your prospects of a career.
"The internet is an essential tool and social networking sites are a popular way for young people to communicate, but we need to make sure they stay safe online and know how to use it responsibly.
"Anyone who may have concerns about images they have shared or received should speak with a trusted adult or the police straight away.
"We will be working with local schools across both Sunderland and South Tyneside to educate teenagers around the risks and their personal responsiblity to ensure they use social media responsibly.
"It is a great tool for them to keep in contact with their friends, but there are risks attached and these risks can be greatly increased by the content they post."
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird added: "The internet plays such an important part of everyday life for so many young people, especially with social networking being a popular way to communicate.
"It’s very important that we make sure young people stay safe online and are aware of the risks and what they can do to avoid them."
For more information about staying safe online, visit www.northumbria.police.uk/esafety.