Truth of Sexting Among UK Teens
Leading children’s charity Beatbullying uncovers true extent of ‘sexting’ amongst UK teens
August 4, 2009 – 'Sexting', the sending of sexually explicit messages via text and email, has hit British schools with over a third (38%) of UK under 18s receiving an offensive sexual image via text or email.
These findings form part of ground breaking research on sexting from Beatbullying, the UK's leading bullying prevention charity.
It uncovers that bullying is escalating at an alarming rate with digital innovations.
Common ‘sexts’ include images of young boys exposing themselves, boys who have requested girls to remove their clothing and images taken by the girls to send to boyfriends and images of sexual acts.
Material is often Bluetoothed, added to home built websites, uploaded onto social networking groups and issued by emailed or text.
Cases of sexting have been well documented in the US and Australia, but little is known of young people’s exposure to sexting and other forms of sexual bullying via mobile phones and the internet.
Beatbullying’s research of 11-18 year-olds found that:
• 38% said they had received a sexually explicit text or email (male: 36% | female: 39%)
• 70% of young people knew the sender of the message
• 45% of messages were from a peer, 23% from a current boyfriend / girlfriend and just 2% from adults
• Of the 25% who received an offensive sexual image, 55% were issued via mobile phone
• 29% have been chatting online chat when someone started talking about sexual things (male: 24% | female: 31%)
• In this instance, 45% said the chat was instigated by a friend (peer), 10% by an ex-partner and 2% by an adult
These stats support Beatbullying’s work by providing further evidence to highlight that peer to peer anti-social / predatory behaviour is the biggest threat facing our young people today online and via mobile phones.
Emma –Jane Cross, chief executive of Beatbullying, said: “Beatbullying researched thousands of young people to understand how technology is changing the way they’re communicating and moderate how they’re manipulating these methods to bully and pressurise their peers.
“We don’t want to stifle young people’s sexual development but it is important that parents and schools understand the rise of sexting so together we can act to stop sexual bullying.
“The Byron report made a commitment to protecting our young people in this complicated new online era, the Government has a duty to ensure it meets these recommendations.
“We have seen the tragic consequence of the sexting epidemic in the US. To avoid similar cases here, politicians must pool together organisations like Beatbullying to create an intervention and prevention task force in schools and the local community.
“This needs to be part of the solution if we are to educate our young people about the consequences of their actions and how to keep safe online as well as offline.”
In a major step to tackle the cyber bullying epidemic head on, Beatbullying launched the world’s first peer mentoring social networking site www.cybermentors.org.uk in March 09. For the first time, a young person suffering at the hands of bullies both on and offline can seek immediate help and support from their peers.
Since its launch in March, over 150,000 young people have accessed Beatbullying’s CyberMentors website to seek help and support from their peers.
Definition of Sexting: A portmanteau of sex and texting, Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones and/or the internet. Sexting is an extension of cyberbullying when someone, or a group of people, deliberately attempt to hurt, upset, threaten or humiliate someone else. This includes when a recipient is made to feel uncomfortable as a direct result of the content, or asked to do something which makes the recipient feel uncomfortable.
For more information, visit www.cybermentors.org.uk | www.beatbullying.org | 0845 338 5073
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