Almost 3,500 investigations into sexting by children have been opened by 25 UK police forces in the past four years.
In eight of these cases, prosecution was prevented because the offender was under the age of ten – the age of criminal responsibility. Several police forces have now launched a major investigation in a bid to tackle the sexting epidemic amongst under-18s in Britain.
In a Freedom of Information provided to The Times, it found most children use a variety of social media to share their images, with Snapchat and Facebook ranking as the most common.
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Police have launched 3,500 investigations into sexting
Children as young as seven have been investigated for sexting
These shocking figures show the vital importance of sex and relationships education. The dangers of sexting need to be told to young people
John Pugh, Lib Dem education spokesman
Norfolk Police has looked into 1,097 cases of sexting between 2013 and 2014. Essex has investigated 431 cases, Suffolk 300 and South Yorkshire 394.
No action was taken in many of the cases and of those recorded, 49 led to cautions, 51 to charges and 179 to “community resolutions” in which the offender was ordered to apologise or pay compensation.
John Pugh, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, uncovered the shocking data.
He said: “These shocking figures show the vital importance of sex and relationships education. The dangers of sexting need to be told to young people.”
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Police say the dangers of sexting have 'life changing impacts'
Police say the dangers of sexting can have “life changing impacts” and once nudes are sent you “lose control of what happens next”.
The details emerged after recent calls to update English school's current sex education curriculum in order to teach students about the dangers of pornography and sexting.
Schools are facing calls to include sexting in their sex education curriculum
A Department for Education spokesman added: “We need to ensure that all children and young people have access to high quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education that relates to the modern world.
“That is why we plan to update statutory guidance for relationships and sex education, which was introduced nearly 20 years ago. We will now begin engagement and gather expert opinions to ensure these subjects really have a positive impact.”
It comes as police issued parents with a “sexting dictionary” of code words children use to secretly exchange explicit messages and photos.