We were approached by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and asked to circulate the following information about keeping young people safe from potential abuse and intimidation.
Please share this information with any parents, grandparents and young people you know.
ChildLine launches first app ‘Zipit’ to defuse the pressures of sending self-generated explicit images or videos
Action taken as survey reveals 60 per cent of young people have been asked for a sexual image or video and 40 per cent have created an image or video of themselves
Today ChildLine launches their first ever app designed to provide tools to defuse the pressures on young people to send an explicit image or video. Called ‘Zipit’, the free app offers witty images to send instead of explicit ones, advice for how to engage in safe chat, what to do if you feel threatened or if an image becomes public, and a direct link to call ChildLine.
Labelled as ‘sexting’, the sharing of self-generated sexually explicit images or videos by mobile phone or online is now commonplace amongst young people to the point that it is considered ‘mundane’.1,2 The app has been developed in response to a ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds which revealed that young people are frequently taking huge risks by making and sending sexual images of themselves. Shockingly, 60 per cent of the young respondents said they had been asked for a sexual image or video of themselves. 40 per cent said they had created an image or video of themselves, with around a quarter of all those questioned saying they had sent the image or video to someone else.
James*, 17, explains that he continues to engage in sending and receiving images, despite the risks: “Sexting is really pretty normal at my age. My friends and I talk very openly about our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we’ve sent each other. It seems like everyone’s doing it.”
Over half of the young people surveyed by ChildLine said they had received a sexual photo or video, most received them from a partner but a third received them from a stranger. Whilst most said the image went to a boyfriend or girlfriend, a third said they sent it to someone they met online but didn’t know in real life and 15 per cent said they had sent it to a total stranger.
James continued: “You do sometimes get a negative reaction to something you send, like people saying they’ve ‘seen bigger’. It’s embarrassing but it doesn’t bother me enough to stop. There are definitely risks involved. Someone saw a video message I had sent to a previous girlfriend, took a screen shot and posted it online. They called me a pervert and lots of people I knew saw it. I was completely devastated and, to be honest, almost suicidal.”
In contrast to the scale of the problem, few young people are calling ChildLine to talk about the issue, whether for fear of being judged or being reported to the authorities. Most of those surveyed said they would approach a friend if they need help relating to ‘sexting’ with just 17 per cent saying they would talk to their parents.
Peter Liver, Director of ChildLine Services said: “ChildLine are proud to be launching our first app for young people. We hope ‘Zipit’ will give them the tools to defuse the pressure to send, share or collect these images. We understand that young people may continue to take and send explicit images but we want them to know that ChildLine is here any time to offer non-judgemental support and advice.”
To help support young people further, ChildLine and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have also joined forces to ensure young people of 17 years and under know where to turn to get sexually explicit images removed from online.
Peter Liver continued: “Most common contacts to ChildLine are when the issue has escalated beyond their control but the app is designed to provide some support before an issue escalates. In addition to the app, our partnership with the IWF means that we can help young people to verify their age before logging a complaint to get the image removed swiftly and efficiently.”
Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with ChildLine as we have sadly tracked a marked rise in self-generated sexual content featuring young people. The IWF works strictly within UK law; we have to be certain that the image features someone under the age of 18 which is why this partnership with ChildLine is all the more important to ensure we can receive the information to remove explicit content as soon as possible.”
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