Talking to your children about their sex lives may seem embarrassing (and perhaps unnecessary), but a police officer is advising mums and dads to be proactive in having a conversation with their kids about nude pictures.
PC Sally Baines, who has worked at West Yorkshire police for 14 years, said parents of teenagers need to be more open about the pressures on young people to engage in practices like sexting.
Baines, who is a mother to a 10-year-old girl, tweeted about meeting two girls who had been sending nude pictures of themselves to boys.
[Read More: Here’s how to talk to your kids about sexting]
Baines said peer pressure is making young people feel like it is “the normality” to send nudes – and abnormal to want to abstain.
Parents should speak to both sons and daughters, she said, and remind them they shouldn’t be pressuring other people into doing anything they don’t want to.
She also told parents to remind children that saying no is nothing to be ashamed of.
Baines reminded parents that creating or sharing explicit images of a child is against the law, even if the person doing it is also a child.
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 taking formal action isn’t in the public interest.
Police forces in England and Wales have recorded a huge rise in underage sexting offences in the last couple of years: there were 6,238 reports between 2016 and 2017, a rate of 17 offences per day.
This figure marks a huge 131% rise since the same period in 2014.
According to research by NSPCC, around one in seven young people admitted to having taken a semi-naked/naked picture of themselves. Over 50% went on to share the picture with someone else via the internet.