Sexting – Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (YPSI)
Young people are likely to interpret sexting as ‘writing and sharing explicit messages with people they know’. Similarly, many parents think of sexting as flirty or sexual text messages rather than images. This gives rise to confusion over exactly what sexting means. A new term Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (YPSI) is now used to be clear about what we mean:
- ‘Youth produced’ includes young people sharing images that they, or another young person, have created of themselves
- ‘Sexual’ is clearer than ‘indecent.’ A judgement of whether something is ‘decent’ is both a value judgement and dependent on context
- ‘Imagery’ covers both still photos and moving videos
Sharing photos and videos online is part of daily life for many people, enabling them to share their experiences, connect with friends and record their lives. Photos and videos can be shared as text messages, email, posted on social media or increasingly via mobile messaging apps, such as Snapchat, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
90% of 16-24 year olds and 69% of 12-15 year olds own a smartphone, giving them the ability to quickly and easily create and share photos and videos. This increase in the speed and ease of sharing imagery has brought concerns about young people producing and sharing sexual imagery of themselves. This can expose them to risks, particularly if the imagery is shared further, including embarrassment, bullying and increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation. Producing and sharing sexual images of under 18s is also illegal.
Although the production of such imagery will likely take place outside of school, these issues often manifest in schools. We aim to respond swiftly and confidently to ensure that children are safeguarded, supported and educated.
All incidents of youth produced sexual imagery will be dealt with as safeguarding concerns and the primary concern at all times will be the welfare and protection of the young people involved.
We talk about Youth Produced Sexual Imagery in assemblies and as part of our PSHE programme. We regularly warn our students of the dangers of producing and sharing sexual images because once this is done it is virtually impossible to recover them.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) have produced a guidance document called ‘Sexting in schools and colleges: Responding to incidents and safeguarding young people’. This advice covers:
- Responding to disclosures
- Handling devices and imagery
- Risk assessing situations
- Involving other agencies, including escalation to the police and children’s social care
- Recording incidents
- Involving parents
- Preventative education
The guidance for responding to YPSI can be found here :
https://notinourcommunity.org/ is a locally based website that covers the signs of sexual exploitation, how you can keep safe and where you can go for help, as well as find out about real cases of sexual exploitation.