It’s been a busy start to the year (can we still say that mid March?). We worked with a number of Torbay schools in February for Safer Internet Day (a huge well done to all those involved), and we’ve been out and about delivering our esafety presentations to children, young people and parents.

As well as doing ‘our day job’ a key issue that we’ve been focusing on recently is sexting.

If you haven’t heard of it, ‘sexting’ is when people use technology to share personal sexual content of themselves with someone else. It’s usually something that people want to do with each other. For consenting adults sexting is risky but it’s not really our place to comment. Where people under the age of 18 are concerned the issue is very different (and we can comment).

Talking about sex can be tough. Bringing up the subject with your own child can be tough. For a child to be able to bring up the subject with a parent, guardian or carer, tough. That’s a lot of tough. It’s really easy when something seems difficult or just plain embarrassing to avoid it, but avoiding something doesn’t make it go away. It just becomes something on the periphery that may or may not come and bother us, which we think is even more terrifying.

We think it’s important to talk about sexting openly with young people, from a place that recognises that they want to explore their own sexual identities and relationships, and from a place that recognises that sometimes people make genuine mistakes. We also think it’s important to give them information to help them make their own positive and informed choices.

Today we previewed a short film about sexting that we’ve made specifically for parents, and it couldn’t have been achieved without the help and support of the principal, teachers and students from Torquay Academy. We are really lucky in our project to be able to work with some amazing individuals and groups and we are proud to have been able to work with the students from the academy.

The film doesn’t cover the whole issue of sexting. It’s a big issue and lots of people have loads of different views on it. What we have included is a bit of information that we hope that a number of parents may find useful.

Sexting is one of those issues that many people find difficult to discuss. The film isn’t designed to scare anyone. We know that the internet is a great tool and for many people a fantastic experience, but we have tried to be very honest and balanced about the risks and the consequences (including the potential legal consequences) associated with sexting involving young people. We hope that by making this film it will help raise awareness about sexting and encourage some really positive and open discussions.

In our project we never claim to be experts on esafety so if you want to find expert advice you can find links to other organisations from our parents and carers information pages. A great read called ‘So you got naked online’ is available from the South West Grid for Learning and has been created for young people, but parents might find it interesting too.

A couple of grammatical errors in the film text were pointed out today (cue red faces!) so we’ll get those sorted out soon…

In the meantime if you want to check it out, visit the Sexting page.

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