Children as young as five should be warned about the risks of ‘sexting’ their friends, a police child protection expert has said.
Peter Davies, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, told MPs that young children were sending sexually explicit images of themselves to each other, in a practice known as ‘sexting’, and children under eight need to be warned about the growing trend.
Mr Davies believes it is too easy for youngsters to stumble across indecent images on the web which they could copy themselves through means of sexting.
His organisation is now sending films to schools aimed at children between five and eight, to train them how to avoid the online dangers.
Giving evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee Mr Davies said there was a lack of urgency on the part of police to improve things.
He added: “But the police service doesn’t act on its own, and I think the best leadership for tackling this on the ground is local leadership.”
He told MPs ‘sexting’ was a growing problem, but only a fraction of incidents where it had “gone wrong” were reported to police.
An NSPCC study of sexting found that teenage girls are coming under increasing pressure to text and email explicit photos of themselves.
The charity said that more than a third of under-18s are believed to be affected by it.
According to research presented at the Westminster Education Forum last year four in ten children between the ages of 11 and 16 are aware of sexting taking place at their school.