It’s unbelievable but kids as young as 10 are sex texting

It’s incredible to think that kids as young as 10 years old are sexting but, according to Northumbria police, it’s happening. How do you stop your child sending or receiving explicit content through a mobile phone?

Northumbria police launched several probes into alleged sex texting last year and reported that one case involved a 10-year-old boy who sent explicit images to an 11-year-old girl. A boy of 12 was also cautioned for sending rude picture messages of himself to a female classmate.

Another youngster, a teenage girl from the same area, was sent x-rated content through mobile picture messaging app Snapchat, reports MailOnline: “I’ve added boys on there who seemed nice when I started chatting to them, but soon enough they were just sending me disgusting picture after disgusting picture,” she said.

You’re probably horrified at the thought of your pre-teen sex texting but here’s the thing: it’s happening. Even if your child isn’t sending explicit messages if they have a mobile phone they’re at risk of receiving them. It’s an issue that needs to be talked about says the NSPCC.

  • Understand the risks. Sexting, also known as sex texting or cyber sex, can take place between mobile phones but also via tablets and web cams. It’s more common than you probably think: There was a 28 percent increase in calls to ChildLine in 2012/2013 (compared to the previous year) that mentioned “sexting” — the equivalent of nearly one every day.
  • The majority of teens and pre-teens who indulge in sexting think it’s completely harmless and just a bit of fun, which is why they’re unlikely to talk to their parents about it. Also they don’t want to be judged — or have their phones confiscated.
  • Sexting is illegal if you’re under 18 because sending an explicit image of a minor is considered to be producing and distributing child abuse images and risks being prosecuted, even if the picture is taken and shared with their permission.
  • A good time to talk about sexting is when you give your child their first mobile phone. Set out the rules, e.g. no using the phone after a certain time in the evening, not taking it to school, etc. and include a conversation about sexting. Ask your child what sort of messages they think are appropriate to send. Advise them that anything they wouldn’t be comfortable sending to you, or their grandparents, is probably not appropriate.
  • Explain the dangers of sexting without accusing your child of anything. Tell them that images that are sent to someone else can easily be passed on, shown to other people or published on the internet.
  • Let them know that they can talk to you about any concerns they have without being judged or punished.
  • Set up controls on your child’s phone to block access to certain sites or monitor their activity.
  • If your child has been sending or receiving x-rated messages try to stay calm. Reassure your child that you are on their side and discuss how you can best deal with the situation together.

Sexting fuels teen depression

The problem is particularly severe for girls who fall victim to cruel remarks about their appearance and weight.

Figures from the Priory Group, the country’s largest organisation for mental health hospitals and clinics, show admissions for anxiety in teenagers has risen by 50 percent in only four years. In 2014 a total of 262 girls and boys aged 12 to 17 were admitted to one of its centres with severe depression or anxiety, up from 178 in 2010.

But this is almost certainly an underestimate because there are hundreds of others on waiting lists who have been referred by GPs but not yet seen by a specialist.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show that a fifth of teenagers and young adults suffered some degree of depression and anxiety last year, a higher proportion than in other generations.

Psychiatrists blame sexting, in which youngsters text explicit photos of themselves to friends who then comment. They say some see it as a “form of courtship” and the chance to be noticed by the opposite sex. But the photos can provoke extremely unkind comments, particularly if unflattering images of someone are sent round behind their backs.

They are also worried about online bullying on websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Ask.Fm – often by anonymous ‘trolls’ they have never met.

In 2012 and 2013 the website was directly blamed for the deaths of four teenagers in England and Ireland. These included Hannah Smith, who hanged herself aged 14 after months of taunting by anonymous users over her weight, the death of an uncle and her self-harming.

Hannah, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, received messages telling her she was an “ugly ******” and a “fat s***”. Less than a fortnight before her body was found in 2013, she had begged her tormentors to stop. encourages its 60 million users worldwide to ask a question which is then answered by everyone else, anonymously. Teens often post pictures of themselves and these can provoke spiteful comments.

MPs and medical professionals want schools to teach children about the tragic consequences of sexting and online bullying.

Dr Natasha Bijlani, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton, South-West London, said: “This relatively new phenomenon of sexting – where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices – seems to have become endemic, and we are not sure of the long-term consequences. However, coupled with online bullying, we can expect an increasing number of people suffering issues of trust, shame, and self-loathing, sometimes manifesting itself in self-harming.”

She said sexting was now seen as the “new courtship” but often had “nightmare consequences”.

“The long-term effects of bullying can be prolonged and pervasive,” she added. “Much more focus needs to be given to how best to educate young people about the risks of sending compromising images, and communicating with unknown others online, and how to cope with bullying via devices at school.

“Episodes in childhood are often repressed and only later in life do these issues surface in the form of depression, stress and anxiety and other serious psychological conditions.”

Jenny Edwards, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation charity, said: “There is a need for schools to lead on promoting emotional wellbeing. We know that over half of adults with serious mental health problems were first diagnosed when children.

“But we need to recognise that while new technology may increase stress in some circumstances, it can also reduce it by creating online support and increasing access to treatment.”

Sexting: How young children deceive parents to share porn

A new guidebook is offering parents a glimpse into the world of teenage text-speak in a bid to help prevent children getting into trouble for “sexting” or viewing illegal pornography.

The internet safety guide helps adults decode the language of online technology, including some jargon used by children in a bid to evade parental scrutiny.

For example, the guide explains that the acronym “PIR” is short for “parent in room”, used to denote when a youngster cannot speak openly to their friends because of an adult’s presence.

Similarly, “POS” means “parent over my shoulder”.

The guide published by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation stresses the importance of parents familiarising themselves with the technology, apps and websites their children are using.

“Sometimes young people – as we all recall from our childhoods – want to do things they don’t want their parents to know about,” said Tom Squire, from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

“The spirit of our jargon-busting guide is to give parents the confidence to engage with their children about these subjects and have a conversation with them.

“Parents are always going to be behind the curve in the way children communicate online, but the key thing is that adults are able to ask young people about what they are doing.”

The 32-page pamphlet, What’s the Problem, sets out how parents can warn children about the dangers of “sexting”, or sharing intimate images of themselves on the internet or smartphones.

It also explains how it is illegal to look at pornography of underage children, even if the viewer is under 18.

The guide even offers advice on what parents should do if their child is arrested for viewing child pornography.

• Sexting: Girls as young as seven in explicit videos online

• Facebook and Twitter crime surges as police are deluged with cases of harassment and sexual grooming

It stresses how young people can be at risk of grooming, peer pressure and coercion in relation to sex and nudity online, and suggests what parents can do to protect their children.

The three–page section on internet terminology does not cover all the jargon currently used by young people to avoid parental oversight.

Some of the others include “KPC” for “keep parents clueless”, “PAL” for “parents are listening” and “RENTS” as slang for “parents”.

Donald Findlater, director of research and development at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: “This guide looks to help adults deal with some of the grittier issues facing parents today.

“Alongside the great many benefits, to children and adults, presented by the internet and new technologies, there is also an array of risks and dangers to negotiate.

“Parents and carers need help in understanding those risks. They also need help in responding when something has gone wrong.”

He added: “Feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment and anger must not stop us responding well, even when our child has behaved irresponsibly online.

“How we deal with the situation today can have big implications for all their tomorrows.”

Earlier this month a leading psychiatrist warned “sexting” and online bullying could be placing whole generations of children and young adults at greater risk of depression and other psychological problems.

Dr Natasha Bijlani, a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital, said online pressures – particularly over sex and nudity – could even drive an upturn in the number of young people who go on to self-harm.

And earlier this year research by the online safety group the Internet Watch Foundation and Microsoft, the technology giant, reported a “disturbing trend” of children as young as seven appearing in sexually explicit videos and images online.

The content had been posted by youngsters themselves or surreptitiously recorded and shared by a third party, the study found.

• Revenge porn: Here’s what to do if someone posts your naked pictures online 
• ‘Sexting’ is new courtship’, parents are told

New Study Finds Unprotected Sexting is Rife Among Millennials

Forty-six percent of millennials have sent “sext” messages via mobile devices, but only five percent of them use apps that protect their privacy, according to a new study released by Raketu, developer of RakEM, the world’s most secure, private and encrypted communications application. The study also found that 72 percent of millennials have sent text messages and then regretted it, with the most prevalent reasons due to emotion or anger (almost 56 percent) or by accident (43 percent).

The independent study of 1000 consumers was commissioned by Raketu, and reveals how Americans are concerned about the privacy of their mobile communications but are either not taking steps to protect themselves or have false assumptions about the messaging apps they are using.

Privacy Concerns
The study found that more than 40 percent of people aged 30-44 are moderately to extremely concerned that their private texts or calls might be seen or heard by others. Nearly 74 percent of 18-29 year olds are concerned that the government has access to the info on their mobile device.


Risky Assumptions
Consumers unanimously assume that the information on their mobile devices is secure, with phone calls considered the most private (67 percent). Despite these concerns, just 50 percent take proactive measures to ensure their privacy, using messaging apps that allege to offer encryption and security (many of which have already been hacked, are insecure and do not support adequate encryption). And even though Facebook publicly states it collects data about users, 42 percent stated they use Facebook Messenger for its privacy. Additionally, 60 percent said they’d be eager to use a messaging/voice calling app if it truly guaranteed their privacy.

“It is clear that mobile users are putting themselves at risk through sexting and other regrettable activities, and generally assuming that their communications are protected when that’s clearly not the case,” explained Greg Parker, president and CEO, Raketu. “What’s more, we learned that they’d feel violated, angry, scared, and embarrassed should their photos, texts, and calls be hacked or shared without their permission. This study exposes an urgent need for education among consumers on how best to safeguard their mobile communications and that the claims of encryption by many are not necessarily true.”

About Raketu Communications Inc.

Raketu Communications Inc. is developing leading edge device-to-device direct Internet protocol applications that provide secure communications services for consumers and for business across mobile devices, tablet, desktops and laptops. The company currently has users in over 150 countries around the world.

The Evolution of Bullying: From Schoolyard to Smartphone 24/7

 Instead, it goes online in the form of cyberbullying. Today, about 17% of all pupils have been victims of cyberbullying attacks, the release said. 

Research undertaken by Kaspersky Lab in cooperation with media psychologists from the University of Wuerzburg shows that one out of five teenagers between the ages of 12-15 have been subject to cyberbullying. “This is a critical developmental stage in a young person’s life as children approach puberty and begin to spend more time online. With the rise in popularity of social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, life offline is becoming more interwoven with life online. Consequently, bullying becomes harder to leave behind when a child physically leaves the playground. The bullying can start offline, at school, and continue online via social media,” the release said. 
David Emm, Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab explained, “Children need to develop a sense of morality when they are interacting with other people online, just as much as they do when they are communicating offline. This will give them more empathy and reduce the likelihood of them opting to engage in cybercrime or cyberbullying. It’s also important so that they understand, from an early age, the potential dangers associated with some online activities.”

Dangers of the growing trend of sexting among teenagers

Nude photos, sexting and other intimate visual matter on cell phones can create dangerous situations for kids and can even be a very serious crime.

Many parents are unaware of the growing problem of technology use amongst teens, specifically nude selfies. According to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, it’s a serious problem they have seen here in the Grand Valley.

“If kids house nude photographs of themselves or send new photographs of themselves and it’s on their devices, they could be charged with manufacturing child pornography,” said Jeff Byrne, an investigator with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

On top of that, if your kid sends a nude photo, the sheriff’s office says that can be considered distribution of child pornography. The Western Slope Center for Children said this usually comes into play in boyfriend, girlfriend situations, where one party will share the other person’s nude photos they sent to each other, after a breakup. The effects of sending nude photos at a young age, can be long-lasting.

“There is a lot of bullying that goes on because of this, and what we see is its really damaging,” explained Jeffrey Schuster, a forensic interviewer with the Western Slope Center for Children. “Especially to their peer groups and schools and it’s really detrimental. I mean it can impact a lot of people.”

Officials note that in the instance of a photo, it can be shared, which can snowball fast on the internet or through the use of a cell phone.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office says this is important specifically to middle and high schoolers, and it’s important to understand a nude photo is something that can stay with you for the rest of your life. They encourage parents to keep a close eye on their child’s phone, and their internet activity.

Sexual Bullying At Schools Has to Stop

 On Monday, Hannah experienced the second of two incidents of bullying with a disturbingly sexual tone. A group of fourth graders was approached at recess by four Grade 7 students and verbally harassed. One of the boys allegedly told Hannah that he was going to “shove a lollipop up her a**” and make her “suck [his] d***.”

Hannah’s mother spoke to the school principal, and although the boy admitted to the incident, as far as she knows no further action was taken by the school. As of Wednesday, Nicola’s calls to the superintendent and her school trustee had not been returned, and the principal did not respond to a request for comment for this post.

In frustration, Nicola wrote about the incident on her Facebook page, only to have a friend’s comment reported to the police as a threat. A police officer subsequently contacted Nicola and informed her they have determined there was no “malice” in the boy’s comment and they have cautioned him about his language.

In the earlier incident, a 10-year-old boy lifted Hannah’s skirt and touched her genitals during a soccer game. The school told Nicola this happened accidentally, and Hannah now blames herself for wearing a skirt.

As a child and youth counselor with 20 years’ experience advocating for other people’s children, Nicola says, “I never thought I would be in this position, feeling so helpless,” when it came to her own child. “I have a scared little girl who is refusing to return to school, and I support her decision.”

Nicola is adamant this is not about retribution or making an example of the boys involved. “It’s the bigger picture of the systemic problem that I need to be addressed.” The school offered to assign a teacher to supervise Hannah at all times, but Nicola pointed out that singling out her daughter does nothing to address the underlying problem. “I told [the principal] ‘You’ve created a culture where this behaviour is accepted, and that needs to change.'”

According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, sexual harassment includes “using rude or insulting language or making comments toward girls and women,” “bullying based on sex or gender,” and education providers have a legal duty to prevent and respond to such behaviour.

Sexual harassment, in person and online, is a serious issue in today’s schools. Students who experience sexual bullying can face depression, anxiety; they may stop taking part in school activities or going to school altogether, as Hannah has; and they may contemplate or complete suicide. We have seen the impact of this kind of bullying time and time again in tragedies such as the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons.

The perpetrators of sexual harassment are also affected by their own behaviour. When CityTV News’ Shauna Hunt was verbally harassed by men shouting gender-based obscenities at a Toronto FC match, she took action. One of the men has since been fired by his employer, and several may face criminal charges. Hannah’s mother points to this incident as an example of the potential consequences of the students involved not being held accountable for their behaviour at a young age.

On Friday afternoon, the school took a step towards a positive resolution to the situation. Hannah’s parents were invited to meet with the Board Superintendent and the principal and vice principal. The school apologized for the lack of urgency and communication and has pledged to arrange a restorative justice process with professionals and to institute new protocols for teachers around dealing with issues of a sexual nature. Nicola hopes this process will begin to repair the rifts this incident has caused in the local community.

The 2015 Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum taking effect in September will address gender and sex-based bullying and cyber-bullying starting in Grade 4. To prevent sexual harassment, children need to understand that it is no laughing matter. The new curriculum will teach them about their rights and responsibilities, how to recognize abusive language and situations, and how to respond if someone is being harassed.

Since this will likely lead to increased disclosures of sexual abuse and harassment, it is crucial that Ontario schools have clear protocols in place. Teachers and administrators need to be given the resources to respond adequately or to refer concerns through appropriate channels.

Nicola is just grateful her daughters were able to talk to her. “I am so thankful they are so comfortable and forthcoming with me. I can’t deal with issues I don’t know about.”

Homophobia: It’s not about banter – it’s about bullying

Let us be clear: this study is not about banter; it is about bullying.

Whether it is in classrooms or boardrooms, on the street or on the sport field, pitch or paddock, the dominant social understanding is that heterosexuality, and its accompanying rights, institutions and privileges,  is normal, natural, inevitable, and desirable.

This view, called “heteronormativity”:, is what surrounds children and young people from birth.  Heteronormativity is reinforced by media and every social institution, and can be accepted uncritically by young people as they become adults.

Heteronormativity is accompanied by the notion of heterosexual privilege, by which heterosexuals assume the right to establish ‘normal’ behaviour and relationships, and to demean non-heterosexually conforming behaviour.

Heterosexual privilege assumes the right to shout “faggot”, “queer” or “dyke” at two men or two women walking down the street holding hands, minding their own business.

It assumes the right to label, exclude, and humiliate people based on assumptions about the way they behave or love. It assumes the right in some countries to engage in so-called corrective rape of women who are perceived as lesbian, or to jail, torture or execute gay people for the crime of being who they are.

Heterosexual privilege in every country educates young people about how they must behave in order to avoid being excluded or humiliated, including ensuring that young people conceal any non-conforming identities.

In 1983 the late poet Adrienne Rich wrote “Heterosexuality has had to be imposed, managed, organised, propagandised and maintained by force”.  In other words, homophobia, heteronormativity and heterosexual privilege are simply sophisticated words for social bullying.

Out on the Fields is an on-line study of 9494 people (26 per cent of these identified as heterosexual) from the major English speaking nations —   the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand — and asked them about their experiences in sport. This was a self-selected and very large sample, with 651 participants from New Zealand.  (It is notoriously difficult to recruit probability samples for studies of sexual and gender minorities because many people in these groups feel the need to conceal their sexuality identities).

Among key findings, the study found that 73 per cent of participants felt that youth sport is not safe and welcoming for gay people; 80 per cent of participants said that they had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport; 84 per cent of gay men and 82 per cent of lesbians had been the target of verbal assaults, and 19 per cent of gay men and 9 per cent of lesbians had been physically assaulted.

These findings are very consistent with the 2003 Lavender Islands national study of 2269 people in New Zealand which found that three-quarters of gay men and two-thirds of lesbians had been verbally assaulted, and 18 per cent of gay men and 9 per cent of lesbians had been physically assaulted because of their sexuality. It seems that not much has changed.

The findings from Out on the Fields will be nothing new to sexual and gender minorities. Queer communities have experienced intolerance and hate in many arenas, whether it is from religious authorities, in a classroom, an athletic team or PE class, a parliamentary debate, or simply walking down the street.   What Out on the Fields does is to turn the focus on where the problem really sits.

Calling someone “queer” or “faggot” is not a gay problem: it is a straight problem. It is a problem for heterosexuals.

People who engage in social bullying are lesser people because of their bullying, and they teach our children to be lesser, more intolerant people. That is the challenge to New Zealand sport and the wider society.

The messages from Out on the Fields are directed at both heterosexual people and sexual minority communities.

To heterosexuals the message is: this kind of bullying is your problem, and you need to fix it.

The study challenges heterosexual coaches, officials, and players to stand up and declare themselves against bullying of any kind in sport, and particularly homophobic bullying.  It challenges heterosexual academics who study sport to conduct full scale studies of sport in New Zealand to document the scope of homophobic bullying in all codes, and to make clear recommendations to address the problem.

To sexual minority communities, the message is equally clear: the battles are far from over.

Author Michaelangelo Signorile warns against “victory blindness”.  With all  that gay, lesbian and trans communities have won in the last few years in the legislatures, courts and media it is easy for us to sit back and think “We won”.  But Out on the Fields reminds us that there is still much more to do.

Now it is clearer where the work must be done to ensure healthy young people and societies: not only in queer communities, but in mainstream heterosexual communities.

More than half of primary school principals are aware of homophobic bullying

New research reveals more than half of primary school principals are aware of homophobic bullying in their school.

The study is being released to coincide with International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The research – which was carried out among more than 2,800 hundred principals in Irish primary schools – found that 57 per cent had to discipline pupils about the use of homophobic language.

Director of the Anti-Bullying Centre DCU Dr James O’Higgins-Norman, says this is the first study that has examined homophobic behaviour at primary Schools.

Study reveals extent of homophobic bullying in primary schools

More than half (57%) of principals surveyed said that they were aware of homophobic bullying or name calling in their schools.

The results are being released as part of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Director of the Anti-Bullying Centre DCU, Dr James O’Higgins-Norman, said that bullying can have a profoundly negative effect on young LGBT people.

“It tells them that there is not a place for them in society,” he said.

“It tells them that expressing their sexuality and coming out and being part of mainstream culture is not something that’s going to be easy, and it confines them again to a level of doubt, and a struggle with their identity that really wouldn’t have to happen if there was greater acceptance and education in our schools.”