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Sharing Nudes: Government Advice to Schools on Managing Sexting Among Children

In the UK, it is illegal to take, download, or distribute sexual images of children or young people under the age of 18 years. When an incident of this nature occurs in your school, it is vital the appropriate steps are taken, and the relevant agencies are involved if necessary.

The government has recently published new guidance to educational settings on best practices for handling nudes/semi-nudes being shared among their children and young people.

What is it?

This new guidance outlines best practices for responding to incidents of nudes/semi-nudes being shared among your pupils. It has been produced in coordination with UKCIS Education Working Group and alongside the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC).

It covers:

  • Risk assessments
  • Safeguarding and supporting pupils
  • Handling devices and images
  • Recording incidents
  • Corresponding with parents and carers

The incidents it covers include:

  • A child (younger than 18-years-old) creates and shares nude/semi-nude images of themselves with a peer also younger than 18-years-old.
  • A child (younger than 18-years-old) shares nude/semi-nude images created by another child younger than 18-years-old.
  • A child (younger than 18-years-old) is in possession of nude/semi-nude images created by another child younger than 18-years-old.

Is it statutory?

This guidance is non-statutory. However, the government advises that it is read in conjunction with the following guidance:

Why has it been published?

This guidance replaces the Sexting in schools and colleges: responding to incidents and safeguarding young people 2016 guidance published by UKCIS in collaboration with the NPCC and Charlotte Aynsley.

It aims to support schools to develop high-quality safeguarding procedures to respond to nudes/semi-nudes being shared. It also shares other resources that offer support in the same field.

Who is it for?

The guidance has been designed for headteachers, DSLs, their deputies, and senior leadership teams. It will also be beneficial for out-of-school settings providing education for children and young people, for example, youth clubs and extracurricular clubs.

What does it mean for schools?

Many schools are experiencing an increasing number of incidents involving nudes/semi-nudes being shared among their pupils. The repercussions of sharing nude images may be very serious, particularly if they are shared without consent.

If a child has a nude image of themselves shared without their consent, it may lead to blackmail and exploitation, not to mention the mental health ramifications for the child involved. Further, if it is shared on the internet, it is much more difficult to delete and may remain online forever.

Schools must, therefore, have appropriate policies and procedures in place to safeguard children and react to incidents involving nude/semi-nude images of children.

Have you considered becoming a member of National Online Safety?

Sharing nudes is not a new topic and understanding the risks associated with sexting and sharing inappropriate content can stop children from making decision which could impact the rest of their life.

We have a range of resources that can help open up the conversation with young ones, including explainer videos and guides.

Join us today and empower your whole-school community with the latest online safety education, training and updates to help keep children safe online.

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