Alarm as primary school children as young as 10 caught sexting
THE sexting trend has hit primary schools with principals turning to sexual assault groups for help to deal with the devastating fallout.
Experts are alarmed that children as young as 10 are regularly sending nude and semi-naked photos of themselves, with some shared widely among classmates.
Easy access to internet porn and social media use at younger ages are said to have contributed to the problem.
Parents have been warned to wake up to the dangers of ignoring minimum-age restrictions for social media sites and letting children set up accounts before they turn 13.
“I am pleading for every parent to report every child to Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat, if they find out they have these accounts underage,” child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, of the National Centre Against Bullying, said.
“They don’t have the social and emotional maturity to manage their digital footprint.
“But it seems to be falling on deaf ears.”
Primary schools are increasingly contacting Victoria’s Centres Against Sexual Assault for advice on how to handle difficult situations where students used mobile phones inappropriately, including sexting.
CASA forum spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said younger children were more likely to send photos wearing singlets or underwear, but some have been more explicit.
She wants education around sexting to start at a primary level.
“For some kids it is terrible, they get stalked and harassed, with the pictures sent to other people,” she said. “We never would have thought that kids this age would take pictures of themselves nude or in intimate positions. We have to keep playing catch-up.”
Dr Carr-Gregg said intimate pictures of young children were commonly uploaded to social media as well as shared via SMS.
The worst case he was aware of involved a year 6 boy harassing a year 6 girl at a different school into sending him naked photos, which he then forwarded to 27 people.
“It was devastating for her, and one of many, many examples,” he said.
Kids Helpline, in a submission to the Senate inquiry into the harm being done to children by porn, said 95 children sought help for sexting issues between July and December 2015.
Of those, 80 per cent were female and the average age was 13.
Nearly 40 per cent of calls discussed significant coercion, such as a male, 15, who threatened to put photos of a 13-year-old girl’s breasts on Facebook unless she had sex with him.
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