A study by the NASUWT, the teacher’s union, found that more than half of its 1,300 members were aware of incidents of pupils using social media to send and receive nude pictures and sexually explicit messages.
One incident involved a girl who persuaded a boy to take a picture of his genitals and send it to her. She then shared the image with pupils. This would constitute distribution of indecent images of children, even if the picture is taken and shared with their permission.
How common is sexting? In 2014/15 there were over 1,200 ChildLine counselling sessions with young people that mentioned ‘sexting’. 45% of the teachers involved in the recent study by the NASUWT stated those involved were aged 13.
63% of teachers said they were aware of 14 year-olds sexting and 25% of teachers were aware of 11-year-olds sexting. The report also mentions a 7-year-old primary school student involved in sexting.
The NSPCC stated: “Children and young people need to understand the risks of sending these images and know what to do to get the support.” The NSPCC provide sexting advice for parents.
The same study also found that half of the teachers involved in the report had discovered negative or abusive comments about them on social media. The study also found that a third of teachers had seen a photo or video of themselves online that had been taken without consent.
The report also indicated that the number of teachers reporting online abuse from parents has increased each year since 2014. Examples of offensive comments towards teachers include threats from parents to “knock out” the teacher and a fake Twitter account set up by pupils describing the teacher as a wife beater.
Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, says there should be a “zero tolerance approach” towards online abuse. However, a third of teachers said they did not report abuse and half of them were fearful nothing would be done.