England and Wales: boy of five among 400 sexting cases

31 July 2017

Thousands of children, some as young as five, have been investigated for sexting. Nearly 400 children under the age of 12 have been spoken to by police in the last three years across England and Wales, according to freedom of information requests from the BBC.


And more than 4000 cases have taken place since 2013 where children have taken explicit photographs of themselves and sent them to others.

It is illegal to possess, take or distribute sexual images of someone who is under 18, including of yourself.

A five-year-old boy from County Durham was spoken to by officers of Durham Constabulary last year.

He is the youngest person to be investigated for sexting by police forces in England and Wales.

The force’s Detective Chief Inspector Steve Thubron said: ‘We deal with incidents proportionately and obviously do not criminalise children. We have worked with other agencies to provide advice and guidance to both schoolteachers and young people.’

The most common age of those sexting is 13 or 14.

Kerry Smith of Plan International UK, which works for children’s rights, said on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: ‘Girls are being pressured – sexting is a gendered issue; more girls are being asked to share.

‘There are double standards. When they do [share], the girls are shamed, not the boys who are holding the phones.

‘People know there’s an issue. They want that knowledge shared with their children and we’ve got to make sure that’s what’s happening in our schools.’

Image credit: Alamy