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29 November 2014, 07:02
There's a warning to young people in the East Midlands that even if you're over 16 - sending an explicit picture of yourself could mean you end up on the sex offenders register.
Alan Charles, the man in charge of policing in Derbyshire, says young people don't realise that as long as you're under 18 you're considered a child.
It comes as a letters have been sent to all head teachers in the county, warning them about the number of children sending explicit text messages to each other.
And parents are also being asked to keep an eye on their children when it comes to the dangers of sexting.
Alan Charles, police and crime commissioner, told Capital: "Technically it's an offence to share an image online of a child, and a child is anyone up to the age of 18.
"You may think you're 15, 16, 17 - it's OK, there's not a problem, but you just sending that picture, even if it's yourself, technically you've committed a sexual offence."
SEE THE LETTER BEING SENT TO DERBYSHIRE SCHOOLS HERE...
The risks associated with social media and internet-related crimes are very well documented but less attention has been given to the growing popularity of young people ‘sexting’ each other.
As we approach the Christmas period, when many young people will be receiving gifts of mobile phones and tablets, we are keen to deliver a timely warning that sharing personal, illicit images, even as a practical joke, can have serious consequences.
That’s why, this year, we want to send out a clear message that A ‘sext’ is for life, not just for Christmas.
We have serious concerns at the prevalence of this kind of activity among teenagers across social media platforms, mobile phone apps and traditional text messages. Many, if not all, of the young people concerned have little idea that choosing to share explicit images of themselves, or others, can have long-lasting ramifications, and could also technically constitute a criminal offence that could have lifelong implications for career opportunities.
This year we are approaching every school in Derbyshire to ensure pupils across the county recognise the risks associated with ‘sexting’ and have developed the attached poster to assist with this. We are asking for your help to remind pupils and students that what they do with their new mobile phones or tablets could put them at risk. A ‘sext’ can last much longer than a relationship. In fact, once a photograph has been uploaded to the internet, it is virtually impossible to remove it, jeopardising the reputation of the individual for the rest of their life. Once ‘sent’ or ‘forwarded’ the message is completely out of their control and the image could end up literally anywhere.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire