More than a third of Northamptonshire schoolchildren know someone who has had naked pictures of them posted online without permission.
Northamptonshire Rape & Incest Crisis Centre (NRICC) revealed that 34 per cent of children aged 11-16 in the county know someone who had “sexted” – shared naked or sexual pictures with a friend via internet or mobile phone – who then circulated them.
In one of the UK’s largest surveys into the “sexting” phenomenon, more than seven per cent of 2,000 Northamptonshire schoolchildren said they had “sexted”, while four per cent had shared pictures involving violent scenes.
Of these respondents, 20 per cent also said they were not aware what happened to the pictures after they sent them or that they no longer had control over them.
A key reason for these “worrying” figures, said NRICC executives during an AGM this week, was a lack of parental control over children’s internet use, especially social media websites.
The sexting survey showed that while nearly all children had internet profiles, fewer than 60 per cent restricted visibility to online friends and more than 15 per cent had been to meet people they first met online.
Nearly three quarters said parents put no restrictions on their use of photo and video apps, such as Instagram and Snapchat, and less than half of parents had a say on what websites children accessed.
NRICC chair, Debbie Galton, said: “It’s common for children to use social media to share pictures, but almost one in five have experience of taking or receiving photos that make them uncomfortable.
“Most are aware of what sexting is, but there is a problem with accessing support, with almost half of the children who took part in the survey saying they would not look for professional help with such situations.”