Chapel man speaks out over the dangers of sexting

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A campaigner believes parents and children should be educated about the dangers of sexting - having regretted participating in the practice as a teenager.

Jake Land, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, began sending explicit pictures or written messages when he was just 14 and still at school. Sometimes he would send up to 20 a day.

The 21-year-old has recently appeared on ITV daytime show This Morning to talk about his experiences.

He said: “I did it at the time because I found it like safe sex, I didn’t find it dangerous. I found it a safer way and I wasn’t going out and getting people pregnant at a young age.

“I never thought there was anything wrong with it or the impact it would have.”

Now he says he deeply regrets sexting, saying it can make things more complicated when in school and could lead to bullying. If photos are shared, it could also impact on a person’s future, for example when applying for a job.

Jake said he used to swap explicit pictures when he was a youngster at school to boost his confidence, but didn’t realise the dangers.

“While my sexting was innocent it could attract predators,” he said. “I think stopping children or setting an age limit on a camera phone could stop or lower the risk of paedophiles having access to children through social media.”

A Freedom of Information request by The Times found that children as young as 12 have been sharing explicit images with each other, and one third of the under-16 sexters were aged just 12 and 13.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “Young people may see sexting as a harmless activity, but there are risks.

“Taking, sharing or receiving an image, even voluntarily, can have a long-lasting negative impact. It may be common, but it is illegal.

“By sending an explicit image, a young person is producing and distributing child abuse images and risks being prosecuted, even if the picture is taken and shared with their permission.”

Jake feels not enough is being done to keep children safe.

He added: “I think it’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about, but it needs to be to show parents and teachers that this is happening.”

In 2014/15, there were more than 1,200 ChildLine sessions with young people mentioning sexting.

If a child has lost control of a sexual image, Childline and the Internet Watch Foundation will work together to try to get the image removed.

Anyone who is concerned about sexting can get help from Childline on 0800 1111 or at www.nspcc.org.uk.