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24 October 2013
By Rebecca Avery

ChildLine tackling sexting with The Internet Watch Foundation

ChildLine believes that "Sexting"(the sending of self-generated indecent images or videos by mobile phone or online) has become so common "it is considered mundane” by young people. In a recent NSPCC/ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds:

  • 60 per cent said they had been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves
  • 40 per cent said they had created an image or video of themselves
  • 25 per cent said they had sent an image or video of themselves to someone else

One 17-year-old boy told ChildLine sexting was "pretty normal" among his friends."My friends and I talk very openly about our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we've sent each other. It seems like everyone's doing it."He said he sometimes got bad reactions to things he sent - but it did not bother him enough to stop. "Someone saw a video message I had sent to a previous girlfriend, took a screen shot and posted it online. They called me a pervert and lots of people I knew saw it. I was completely devastated and, to be honest, almost suicidal."

ChildLine has teamed up with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to help young people get explicit images of themselves removed from the internet. ChildLine will work with the IWF when explicit online image is reported by:

  1. ChildLine will request verification of the name and date of birth of the young person pictured by obtaining scanned copies of official photographic ID, or verification from a school, social worker or police liaison officer. If it is necessary to seek verification of age without photographic ID, the reason for this request will remain confidential.
  2. ChildLine will complete an IWF referral form including a link to the image or video to be removed. Reports made to the IWF are confidential.
  3. On receipt of the referral form, the IWF team assess the report against UK law.
  4. IWF contacts the police and either the hosting company or relevant global hotline to ensure the online image is removed.

For more information, please access content from ChildLine and IWF here “Zipit” – new app to support young people with “sexting” concerns ChildLine has also launched a mobile phone app to help teenagers refuse requests for explicit images of themselves. The free app, called Zipit, offers users a choice of  "witty responses" to send instead.  Zipit offers practical and realistic guidance for young people about safe online chatting and give advice on what young people should do if they feel threatened or if an image becomes public. Zipit  enables young people to:

  • Save images onto their device and share them with friends
  • Share images on Facebook, Twitter, BBM or via email
  • Share images from Zipit through other apps like Whatsapp or Instagram
  • Find out how to deal with a sexting crisis
  • Get advice to help flirt without failing
  • Call ChildLine or save the number onto their phone

Peter Liver, from ChildLine, said: "We hope Zipit will give young people the tools to defuse the pressure to send, share or collect these images." Find out more about Zipit, which is available on Android, Apple and BlackBerry SmartPhones (and iPod touch) here