Police in Northamptonshire are currently investigating 24 separate cases involving the sharing of explicit material on social media involving children as young as 12, latest figures show.
Officers are reminding people that one click can have a massive impact and young people are being urged to think twice before ‘sexting’ and to pause before they post something on social media sites such as Instagram they may later regret.
Detective Inspector Richard Tompkins, who leads the force’s RISE (Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation) team, said: “It is really important people are aware of the dangers of sharing explicit material online.
“The dissemination of any material depicting nudity or sexual activity involving young people could constitute a criminal offence.
“It may seem like harmless fun at the time but it can have huge emotional consequences for those involved, leaving them vulnerable to blackmail,
bullying and harm.
“It’s really important to remember that once an image is online all control of where it ends up is lost.
“There are specially trained officers in my team who deal sensitively with children suffering from the consequences of ‘sexting’. We work closely with children’s services and organisations such as the NSPCC and I encourage anybody with any concerns to report them to Northamptonshire Police on 101.
”I’d also like to appeal to anybody with any information about people posting images on-line to contact police, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
The NSPCC has a Share Aware campaign aimed at parents of eight to 12 year olds at www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/share-aware
For further information, advice or support go to CEOP or Thinkuknow ChildLine can be contacted on 0800 1111.