smartphoneChildLine and the Internet Watch Foundation have joined forces to ensure children and young people know where to turn to get sexually explicit images removed from the internet.

The charities have chosen to take action as new findings reveal that 60% of young people have been asked for a sexual image or video and 40|% have created an image or video of themselves

The ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds showed how young people are frequently taking huge risks by making and sending sexual images of themselves with around a quarter of those questioned saying they had sent the image or video to someone else and 15% of those saying the 'sexted' image went to a total stranger.

Peter Liver, Director of ChildLine Services, said: "In contrast to the scale of the problem, few young people are calling ChildLine to talk about the issue, whether for fear of being judged or being reported to the authorities.

"The sharing of these images does not necessarily happen in isolation, it can be related to other online issues such as cyber bullying and draw from influences such as celebrity and easy access of online pornography. With the constant rise in smart technology being made available to young people, the self-generating and sharing of sexually explicit images is not a ‘fad’ that will go away."

As part of their focus on the issue, ChildLine have also developed their first app for young people designed to provide tools to defuse the pressures to send an explicit image. Called ‘Zipit’ the app, available from November, offers witty images to send instead of explicit ones, advice for how to engage in safe chat, what to do if you feel threatened or if an image becomes public and a direct link to call ChildLine.

IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves added: "A snapshot study conducted by IWF analysts over a 47 hour period found well over 12,000 self-generated images and videos of young people online. Most recently, we see images and videos being gathered together and sold for commercial gain.

"The IWF works strictly within UK law; we have to be certain that the image features someone under the age of 18 which is why this partnership with ChildLine is all the more important to ensure we can receive the information to remove explicit content as soon as possible."