A new in depth study launched by the NSPCC reveals the level that 'sexting' has reached among teenagers, with schoolgirls facing increasing pressure to provide sexually explicit pictures of themselves.

The study, led by Jessica Ringrose from the Institute of Education, University of London, is based on a focus group and in-depth interviews with 35 young people.

It shows that while they are increasingly savvy at protecting themselves from so called 'stranger danger', school-aged girls are having to face a new problem of 'peer to peer' approaches with boys constantly demanding sexual images.

Researchers sought the views of 13 to 15-year-olds at two London schools and also looked at previous research that showed more than a third of under-18s have received an offensive or distressing sexual image by text or e-mail.

Jon Brown, Head of the Sexual Abuse Programme at the NSPCC, said: "What's most striking about this research is that many young people seem to accept all this as just part of life. But it can be another layer of sexual abuse and, although most children will not be aware, it is illegal.

"This can't be treated as just one of those phases children go through. And although some of it may sound familiar from previous generations, the difference is that the consequences are now far wider with images remaining forever and potentially being viewed by mass audiences. They can also fall into the hands of adult abusers.

"It must be dealt with properly with parents, teachers, industry and other professionals working together to give victims the protection they need."

In a bid to start tackling the problems raised by this work the NSPCC is calling for all professionals to receive training in the latest technology so they are better equipped to deal with sexting.

It also wants secondary schools and the communications industry to give young people better protection through education which promotes considerate, respectful relationships and for parents to talk to their children about this issue.

For more information visit www.ioe.ac.uk 

Posted 21/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com