A Case Study on Sexting

It can be a challenge when you get a call from a parent, who is disappointed with the way the school has responded to a situation.  In some cases, a situation involving a specific safeguarding issue.

In light of the updated statutory requirements in ‘Keeping children safe in education 2016’, have you as a school reviewed and updated your safeguarding policies and procedures? Do all of your staff know how to respond to a safeguarding incident involving a child and their peers?

Specific safeguarding issues

The taking and sharing of sexual imagery amongst children forms part of ‘Sexting’, which is a specific safeguarding issue.  This online behaviour is a concern amongst our children and young adults. Knowing how to respond to such an incident is a crucial part of an effective safeguarding approach.

The law

The law states that it is an illegal offence to take, store and share sexual images online, under the age of 18.  To help support schools in responding to such incidents, there are non-statutory guidelines available that offer advice on how to address the issue of ‘Sexting’.

The following is a real incident which occurred.  It is an incident that could happen to any child or young adult, in any school, at any time.  How would you respond?

The incident

A sexual image has been taken by a 15 year old girl, she has sent it to a male friend of the same age.  He shares the image with friends online.

Would your colleagues, know how to respond accordingly to protect the safety and welfare of the children?

The response

During an initial phone conversation with the parent of the boy following the incident, they realised that there were several failings in school’s response.

  • When asked, the member of staff did not know the school’s procedures for dealing with this safeguarding issue
  • The school did not interview the boy only the girl who sent the sexual image
  • It took over 24 hours for the school to come back to the parent with a plan of action
  • There was a lack of support for both the child and parent
  • The Police were called without all of the facts

Key questions

  • Has your Safeguarding or Child Protection policy been reviewed and updated since the release of the statutory requirements ‘Keeping children safe in education 2016’?
  • Are all school staff trained to recognise and respond accordingly to an issue of safeguarding and know who the DSL is?
  • How effective is your teaching of Online Safeguarding issues for children, teachers and parents?
  • How do we equip children and young adults with the skills to make safe choices online?

This type of issue could happen in any school.  Be prepared, by providing your students, teachers and parents with a robust, planned and proactive approach to Online Safeguarding.

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