Paedophile unit cop's warning to kids as young as 12 over sharing explicit images on social media

Northumbria Police are helping educate young people about the potential consequences of sharing explicit photos and videos of themselves online.

Identification officer Mark Reade has been visiting secondary schools across the region with the Safeguarding Community Advisors from the Force’s Education Team to deliver a range of inputs to pupils aged between 12 and 16.

The team talk about the pressures on young people to send images and look at the consequences of what can happen with that picture once it has left their control.

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Police are urging youngsters aged between 12 and 16 to think before they share images on social media.

He said: “We find with the younger age group in particular, they are very trusting as they have recently left primary school, a safe and secure environment, and find themselves in a new place which is more adult and allows them to meet older and more mature pupils.

“One of things we have seen a lot of is that young people just do not think about the potential consequences of sharing an explicit image or video with someone else.

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“We’re trying to help them understand that once they press the send button, they no longer have control over what happens or who sees it. As we all know the internet knows no boundaries.

“Pupils might see this as a bit of harmless fun, but if you are sharing images of someone who turns out to be under 18 that is a sexual offence and you could find yourself in serious trouble.”

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Mark hopes the sessions will not only encourage teens to stop sending and showing images to each other, but also to strangers online.

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He added: “Any images you share could end up on the internet without your permission and as we know the internet is vast, unregulated and impossible to control.

“We don’t want to frighten young people but we want to be realistic. Indecent images can often fall into the wrong hands and appear on encrypted sites used by online predators.

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“Please think very carefully about what you share, and how it might affect you in the future.

“And, if you have been affected this issue, don’t be embarrassed and tell a parent, a teacher or report it to us using our online tool.”

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