Wakefield teachers are to take part in a new safeguarding seminar to help them tackle the growing number of young people taking and sharing sexualised images of themselves.
It comes after it was revealed that one in four young people under the age of 18 engage in 'sexting'.
In 2018, 2,082 child sexual abuse images were examined by Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) with 96 per cent of the material depicting children in their own homes.
Critically, these images had been harvested by predators from the platforms where children had innocently or naively shared them.
Official reports also show that on average, one child in every primary school classroom has been sent a naked or semi-naked image online from an adult.
The seminar, delivered by the Ineqe Safeguarding Group, a specialist safeguarding company, in partnership with Zurich, one of the major insurers of schools in the UK, comes at a time when the number of offences linked to child sexual exploitation in Yorkshire and the Humber have increased approx. 60 per cent in two years from 297 to 473 offences during 2018-2019.
Earlier this year 20 people were arrested in Wakefield during an investigation into organised child sexual exploitation in the city.
The seminar will provide emergency information and guidance on dealing with ‘sexting’ incidents, an overview on the language used during ‘sexting’, vital information about the impact on mental health from ‘sexting incidents’ as well as common motivations for young people to engage in ‘sexting’ and ‘image sharing’.
The events will be delivered in five cities across the UK including Wakefield, London, Bristol, Preston and Birmingham.
Jim Gamble QPM CEO of Ineqe Safeguarding Group said: “There won’t be a parent, carer, teacher or other safeguarding professional in Wakefield who will not be familiar with, or concerned about, this growing problem.
"Young people now live in a digital world, where social media, reinforced by the world of celebrity influencers and reality TV, encourages them to do whatever it takes to ‘celebritise’ themselves. With this culture comes unprecedented levels of harm and risk.
“Understanding the final destination of self-generated imagery is vital.
"These seminars represent a great opportunity for everyone involved in the Safer Schools partnership across Wakefield to share and strengthen their knowledge.
"Critically this information will also be reflected in our Safer Schools partnership app, available to parents, carers and safeguarding professionals, so the information they need will always be where they need it, when they need it, in their pockets.”
Marie Williams, Safeguarding Risk Consultant at Zurich said: “These events have been organised in response to an alarming number of concerns we have had from teachers, social workers and other safeguarding professionals.
"It’s most striking that in some cases young people are sharing images which may end up being reproduced on other sites.
"Every time these images are shared further, a young person is re-victimised so we need to make every effort to educate our children, parents and guardians, and entire schools communities about online risks and how to avoid situation where a child may become a victim of online sexual abuse.”