A Yorkshire police officer has given advice to parents of teenagers after speaking to two teenage girls who were ‘devastated’ after nude images of them were shared.
PC Sally Baines, a West Yorkshire Police officer based in Kirklees, shared the girls’ distress after they were peer pressured into sending naked images of themselves to boys that were later shared with their friends.
In a tweet, she described how the girls were convinced to send the photographs because they were told “everyone else does it” and that if they didn’t the boys would “tell everyone they’re frigid.”
Officer Baines said “Spoke to two teenage girls today about sending nude pics to boys. The boys have pressured them by telling them ‘everyone else does it’ and that if they didn’t they ‘would tell everyone they’re frigid.
The officer explained that she is sharing the girls’ story to raise awareness about this form of ‘sexting’ which she worries is becoming increasingly normalised.
She said: “What is really sad is the normality attached to “sending nudes”. That asking for them is seen as completely normal amongst teens and that sending sexually explicit photos is also seen as a normal part of courtship/relationship.
“The girls I spoke to today both felt under immense pressure to send these photos as they wanted the boys to like them, and the boys had said they wanted to ‘see what was on offer’.
“I honestly felt like crying when I heard this.”
She explained that she is sharing the girls’ story to encourage parents to speak to their children - both boys and girls.
Officer Baines said: “As the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, this both depressed and terrifies me.
“Speak to your daughters about this - tell them that being pushed into sending nudes is not part of a loving, healthy relationship. Saying no is perfectly acceptable and nothing to be ashamed of.
“Speak to your sons about this - tell them that pressuring girls into sending nudes, & if pressure doesn’t work, shaming them into doing it is awful.
“And that sharing the photos amongst mates or posting on Snapchat groups is quite frankly disgusting, not to mention an offence.”
“I spent hours with these girls today. There were tears of embarrassment, frustration, regret, and anger. They weren’t the first girls to do this, & they won’t be the last. Parents, do me a favour - PLEASE - speak to your teens about this. “
In a later update, Officer Baines confirmed that crimes have been recorded, will be investigated and the boys concerned will be interviewed by the police.
It is illegal in England and Wales to create or share explicit images of a child - even if the person doing it is a child.
According to the NSPCC, a young person is breaking the law if they take an explicit photo or video of themselves or a friend and share an explicit image or video of a child - even if it is only shared between children of the same age.
It is also illegal to possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child - even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.
The NSPCC advice: “As of January 2016 in England and Wales, if a young person is found creating or sharing images, the police can choose to record that a crime has been committed but that taking formal action isn't in the public interest.
“Crimes recorded this way are unlikely to appear on future records or checks, unless the young person has been involved in other similar activities which may indicate that they're a risk.”
Like Officer Baines, the NSPCC encourages parents to talk to their children about 'sexting' and explain the risks.
They advise parents to:
- Tell them what can happen when things go wrong and explain the dangers and legal issues and ask them if they’d want something private shown to the world.
- Talk about whether a person who asks for an image from you might also be asking other people for images.
- If children are sending images to people they trust, they may not think there's much risk involved. Use examples of when friends or partners have had a falling-out and what might happen to the images if this happens.”
- Make sure they know that you’re always there for support if they feel pressured by anyone
- Explain that they can come to you if someone asks to send them a nude picture or if they receive an explicit message
- Let them know that you won’t be angry with them but just want to make sure they’re safe and happy.
For more information visit the NSPCC website here.