Child ‘sexting’ is on the increase says helpline

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Counsellors at Childline have dealt with a sharp rise in calls from children about sexting.

The children’s charity received a number of 2,634 calls over the last year.

Sexting, which involves sending a sexual message, image or video, has become the most viewed topic on the Childline website with children looking for advice.

Childline is now stepping up its campaign to help children who feel pressured into sexting with an app that’ll allows children to send funny GIFS and images instead of a sexual explicit message.

Matt Forde, head of NSPCC Scotland, said: “Many young people tell Childline that they feel pressured into sending sexual images of themselves and don’t always have the confidence to say no.

“Once a teenager sends an image of themselves they have no control over where it is shared or who sees it, and sometimes images can end up online.

“This can leave a child feeling humiliated and even lead to them being bullied or blackmailed.

“By using humour, Zipit helps young people take control of online chatting that becomes awkward or pressurised, and support them if something goes wrong.”

Sexting has become normalised

The 2016 survey also revealed that almost half of parents are unaware that it is illegal for a child to take nude pictures of themselves and only a third (33 per cent) spoke to their child about the risks.

Childline founder and president Dame Esther Rantzen added: “The online world is full of opportunities for young people but also presents dangers like sexting which they need help to withstand.

“Senior police tell me that sexting has become normalised for far too many young people, so many teenagers feel pressurised into sending explicit pictures of themselves.

“There is a real danger that they feel desperately humiliated and it can sometimes result in them being abused or bullied into handing over money to prevent these images being shown to school friends or family members.”

“Many parents have told me they feel helpless when they try to protect their children against these dangerous pressures, so I’d encourage families and professionals to take a look at Zipit and share it with the teenagers they know.”