POLICE have warned Perth kids about the dangers of ‘sexting’ and encouraged parents to take the initiative on educating their children about the practice.
Sexting is defined as the sending of sexually explicit photos or messages via a mobile phone or computer, and even primary schools are concerned about the impacts.
Sergeant Paul Trimble from South Metropolitan Community Engagement Unit said police had seen a rise in requests from schools wanting them to talk to students about sexting.
“Several (students) have been caught with images on their mobile phones and other devices,” Sergeant Trimble said.
“(We have) seen some requests from primary schools relating to their students.
“On most occasions the students are totally unaware of the consequences and dangers of their actions until we become involved.
“I would like to encourage parents to talk to their children about the dangers and consequences of sexting as it appears there are increasing amounts of students becoming involved in the behaviour.”
If a young person is under 18 years of age and takes a sexually inappropriate photograph or video of themselves, they are creating child pornography.
If they send it on to another person, they are then distributing child pornography in the eyes of the law.
“We regularly explain to the students in schools that as the law currently stands this means, even as a student, if they have committed one of these offences they could be charged and subsequently placed on the sex offender register,” Sergeant Trimble said.
“They would then be placed under some very strict conditions to be able to continue to live in the community.
“This will also have a catastrophic effect socially, future career opportunities and restrict where they can travel throughout the world.”
Sergeant Trimble said many young people who ‘sext’ online are unaware of who they are actually communicating with.
“A common situation is a boy or girl will build a relationship over a period of time with another boy or girl they haven’t met,” he said.
“After some time the other person will ask them to send a naked image or video of themselves in exchange for one from them.
“The ones who agree send an image through and receive one from the other person.
“What these young people are unaware of is their ‘young friend’ is often an adult sex offender and sometimes a lot older in age, who is sending their image around the world to other sex offenders.
“They then use that image to send onto other children in the attempt to get more images.”
Sergeant Trimble encouraged schools to send a representative for a free course in cyber safety training, ‘Thinkuknow’.
Any person who believes they have been a victim or would like to report suspicious online behaviour can call the Online Child Exploitation Squad on 9428 1555 or to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.