Students at Torquay Academy have helped Torbay’s Virtually S@feTeam to create a new short film to help educate and advise parents about the online issue of sexting. The film which will be available on YouTube is the first in a planned series of short educational films for parents about online risks facing children and young people.
Principal of Torquay Academy, Mr Steve Margetts said “We have been working with the Virtually S@fe Team during 2013 and 2014 and their team has given presentations to a large number of our students. The Academy takes the online and offline safeguarding of its students seriously and this work has complemented our existing programme of activities to educate and support young people and where possible their parents. The issue of sexting can be incredibly sensitive and not always easy for young people and parents to discuss so we hope that by contributing to this film that it will help raise awareness and encourage healthy, honest and open conversations within families.” ‘Sexting’ is a mixture of the word ‘sex’ and ‘texting’ and the term means when people use the internet and associated technology to share indecent images of themselves. Whilst ‘sexting ‘can be a risky activity amongst adults for anyone under the age of 18 it’s also likely to be illegal.
Devon and Cornwall Police Acting Inspector Louise Costin said “There appears to be a culture of certain behaviours being acceptable online, that wouldn’t necessarily be acceptable offline. There’s also often the perception that if lots of people are behaving in a certain way online, than that’s okay. It isn’t. It is a criminal offence to: take an indecent image of someone under the age of 18 (which includes taking one of yourself), to ask someone under 18 for such an image, to distribute, to possess, and to publish such images”. “We’re really grateful to the staff and students at Torquay Academy who have been supporting our project. Students from the Academy were recently filmed with the Virtually S@fe Team by BBC3 as part of a documentary and it was fantastic to hear them talking with honesty and maturity about some really challenging issues. We are also delighted that the students have also helped us to develop materials specifically for local parents”.
Devon and Cornwall Police Community Support Officer Martin Rushworth at Torquay Academy added: “We completely understand that young people are in the early stages of exploring their relationships and their own sexual identities, and that sometimes innocent errors of judgement happen. The police and others will always attempt to support young people involved in sexting and the law is designed to protect children and young people from harm and from being exploited, and not to punish them for making genuine mistakes. That said every case is unique and considered on its own facts, so it is very important that children, young people and adults understand the laws and consequences relating to this serious issue”.
The Virtually S@fe Team have delivered a range of presentations about online safety to students at Torquay Academy and a number of other schools and academies throughout Torbay on issues including cyber bullying, social networking and sexting. The Torbay based project is delivered by Devon and Cornwall Police, Torbay Council and Hele’s Angels. So far it has been funded by the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner and the Torbay Safeguarding Children Board. To find out more about Virtually S@fe visit www.torbayvirtuallysafe.co.uk, follow the team on Twitter @BeVirtuallySafe or email Safer Communities Torbay at firstname.lastname@example.org.