Leeds ,

Leeds students remind young people to ‘think before you send’

Issued on behalf of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board

A group of Leeds City College students who make up the Student Leeds Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) has helped to design posters and other marketing materials for a new region-wide campaign to combat the growing problem of ‘sexting’ amongst young people.

The new campaign which is being launched today by West Yorkshire Police in partnership with the LSCB and other partners to warn young people across the region about the dangers of sharing sexual images

The aim of the campaign is to inform under 18's of the negative impact that either requesting or sharing sexual images can have on their lives and their futures, following increased reporting of the offence to the police.

The new 'Think before you send' campaign features advice for victims and messages warning those who request sexual images that they are potentially committing criminal offences.

Councils in Wakefield, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale are also supporting the campaign together with Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson and the Crimestoppers charity.

Mia Thompson a member of the Student Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, who helped to design the posters and post cards for this campaign said:

“We wanted to make sure the posters and postcards have a big impact on young people so they think twice before making a big mistake they might regret in the future. A lot of young people don’t realise the consequences of sending inappropriate images of themselves so we really wanted to make sure the images and message was clear and gets straight to the point.”

To help combat the issue, the LSCB has launched a new webpage featuring help and advice for those being pressured to send explicit sexual images: www.leedslscb.org.uk/sexting

The Student LSCB is made up of young people on child care and social care related courses at Leeds City College who have volunteered to be part of the group. They provide a young person’s perspective on the work of the LSCB and advise on the most effective methods for engaging children and young people in safeguarding topics.

The posters and postcards will be distributed amongst youth and community groups and police officers will be working with local authority colleagues to warn young people about sexting at events and engagements, and then in schools from September onwards.

Diane Hampshire, acting chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said:

“We are very happy to support this campaign to remind young people to think twice before sending naked or indecent images. The work our students have done designing the posters and postcards will really help raise awareness amongst potential victims and make them aware that no one has the right to pressurise them into making and sending indecent photos. Such photos have the potential to be used for blackmail as well as having terrible emotional repercussions in the future.”

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Sexting’ is an activity we have become increasingly aware of amongst young people and many may not realise that what they are doing is illegal or that it may be potentially harmful to them in the future.

"Specialist investigators trained in Safeguarding and Child protection deal with each report on a case by case basis based on vulnerability and risk, taking in to account any age difference, repeat offending and repeat victims before deciding on an appropriate course of action.

The advice from the police to young people who are being pressured into sending sexual images of themselves is to call the police on 101 and tell someone they can trust. This could be a parent or carer, teacher or family member. They could also call Childline free on 0800 1111 and this number won’t appear on a telephone bill.

People can also make a report by visiting www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-report/and following the instructions.