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UK child safety fears from sexual texts

Press Association logoPress Association 16/08/2016

Most UK parents believe sending sexual text messages, images and video is potentially harmful but nearly six in 10 have not spoken to their children about the issue, new research shows.

The UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has surveyed 1000 parents and carers, with 73 per cent saying they believe sending sexual text messages, or sexting, is "always" harmful.

The NSPCC warns that sharing nude selfies can put young people at risk of bullying and being the target of paedophiles.

The most common worry was the risk of the child losing control of the image.

Very few parents believed their child had already texted a sexual image or video, but around two-fifths of respondents were worried their child may do so in the future.

Only two in five parents had spoken to their child about the risks of sexting, while 19 per cent said they had not spoken about the issue and had no intention to.

"Sharing nude selfies can put young people at risk of bullying by peers or being targeted by adult sex offenders, so it's vital that parents talk to their children and that young people feel empowered to say no to sexting requests," NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said.

"We realise that talking about sexting can be an embarrassing or awkward conversation for both parents and children.

The trend for sharing explicit images among youngsters has emerged as a challenging issue for authorities following the explosion in smartphone ownership, with warnings that it can leave teenagers vulnerable to exploitation or blackmail.

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