'Sexting' issue addressed with Gloucestershire schoolchildren
THE consequences of 'sexting' are to be highlighted in a campaign by young people and police.
It is being run as part of Safer Internet Day next Tuesday to emphasise the fact sending messages of a sexual nature can be seen as bullyng or even against the law.
Sexting is when messages, photos or video footage of a sexual nature are shared via text or across social media.
In a lot of cases, young people posting material online are unaware how quickly it can spread and be seen by many others.
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To combat the problem, officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary's Schools Unit asked youngsters from the Youth Achievement Foundation at Kingsway to design a hard hitting poster that would make people think twice.
Copies of the finished poster will now be put up on walls in schools, youth clubs and libraries across Gloucestershire.
PC Jenny Kadodia, of Gloucestershire Constabulary's Schools Unit said: "This is a growing issue and one we have seen in the county a number of times.
"Many youngsters may not fully appreciate the possible consequences of posting explicit images of themselves or others online but it can be devastating and even ruin lives.
"The YAF girls Jaz, Britney, Brue and Georgina did an excellent job. The poster focuses on how easy it is to lose control of an image when you text it to someone, even someone you think you can trust, and how it can cause years of embarrassment if it ends up being seen by friends, parents or even complete strangers."
Elsewhere, year 10 pupils from Newent Community School and Sixth Form will be performing a play to Year 8 children exploring the issue of sexting on Internet Safety Day itself.
'Picture This,' produced by Childnet International, is intended to help start an important dialogue between teachers and students and help them think about what could happen if they send indecent images.
Pupils at the school will also learn more about the social impact of sexting, while information and communications technology lessons will aim to spell out the technical aspects of the internet and social media and explain how to keep personal information secure.
A number of music pupils will also be writing a song about cyber bullying as part of their studies.
Di Harrill, who oversees personal, social and health education at the school said: "It's vital we make kids aware of these issues and flag up the potential dangers so we can prevent them coming to harm.
"We're using as many mediums as possible to cover every angle. The play is great because it's peer teaching and should be very impactive."
PC Nicola Dannatt said: "We're delighted to be supporting Safer Internet Day again and schools across the county in getting the key messages across.
"Newent has done an excellent job in tackling these issues with the pupils and I was recently invited to a parent's evening to give out advice there so that the grown-ups remain up to speed too.
"The internet is an amazing tool but it is very important to understand its power and for young people and parents to discuss the potential dangers.
"I would urge everyone to visit the UK Internet Safety Centre website www.saferinternet.org.uk where there is a wealth of information about how to keep safe online."
More help, advice and support for young people and parents can also be found at www.thinkuknow.co.uk.