A 14 yr old pupil discloses that they have been involved in sexting. As staff we know that this illegal, but what do we really do about it? Here are some simple questions to help you work out what to do next.
1, Is the image of a severe or extreme nature? Obviously you don’t want to see the image but everyone has different ideas about what sexting really is. One pupil said she had been sent inappropriate images by a boy and it turned out to be of him at the beach. Alright she was uncomfortable with the images but this obviously isn’t one to report to the police. DON’T ask the pupil to email the image to you.
2,Is there a big age difference between the children involved? Police have made it very clear that Peer sharing is one that schools should be dealing with, through education and communication with parents. However if one of the pupils is 14 and the other is 17 then the decision on what to do next needs to be carefully thought through.
3,Have these children been involved in sexting incident before? If you have ” educated” this pupil, communicated to parents and still feel that the pupil isn’t listening. That they are misunderstanding the seriousness of the problem?
4,Is there any external grooming involved or encouragement beyond the children? Do you feel that some grooming is going on? It’s worth asking both pupils more about their motives. Are they getting the images for someone else? an older sibling or friend?
5,Do you recognise the child as more vulnerable? Even if the pupils are the same age, if you feel that one has more power over the other then this could be considered ” Peer on Peer abuse” and needs to be considered careful with the schools Anti-bullying policy.
6, Are there other issues relating to either children that may add concern? Is this a small part of a safeguarding jigsaw puzzle? Is this the pupils way of asking for help? I have one pupil who sees sending pictures of herself as something she does instead of self harm, describing it as producing the same emotions and feelings.
Now you know the full facts, remain calm, support the child, talk through your decision on how to proceed with your line managers and document every decision. No situation is the same but remember to keep the child’s best interest at heart.