Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is supporting an initiative to create anti-sexting ambassadors led by Deputy PCC Sue Arnold.
Sexting – the sending and receiving of nude pictures and sexually explicit text messages – is increasingly becoming normal among teenagers.
Often, the youngsters don’t realise they may be acting illegally and could face police action.
Cannock and District Soroptimists are tackling the issue by delivering a number of training sessions to pupils on the risks, both legal and emotional, of sending naked or near naked images.
Deputy PCC Sue Arnold said: ‘Sending and distributing indecent pictures of under-18s is illegal in UK, but youngsters say there is still pressure to share ‘dodgy pics’.
‘These training sessions not only empower the students with knowledge but encourage them to share information with their peers, creating ambassadors in their school.’
Students from 5 schools attended the first workshop held at Cannock Chase Civic Centre. As well as hearing from professionals about the legalities of sexting, the students discussed ways of taking the issue back to their school and facilitate the sharing of information.
Jayne Startin-Bailey from Staffordshire University Academy in Hednesford said: ‘Today, has helped me realise the importance of really understanding everything about sexting, and how I can help my peers prevent it from happening as well as coping with it.’
Staffordshire University Academy school counsellor Lucy Dudson said: ‘It is really exciting to see how the students want to use their new-found knowledge to support young people in making informed decisions on all things related to sexting.’
Soroptimist is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
Cannock District Soroptimist International President June Bould said: ‘The training has been a real eye-opener.
‘The students all had a thirst for knowledge and feel empowered to make a difference in their own schools’.
Esteem Network Director at Acet UK, Gareth Cheseman delivered part of the training: ‘It was a pleasure to be asked by Soroptimist International to be a part of their fantastic new sexting peer education project.
‘Speaking at the ‘Your Body Your Rules’ workshop was great.
‘The young people who volunteered to take part in the day all showed fantastic levels of understanding and a strong passion to help educate younger year groups about the potential consequences.
‘I was really impressed by the maturity and positive attitude of the group.
‘With such a strong focus on helping their peers, I am confident the young people of their schools will enjoy and learn a lot from the work these peer educators do in the future.’
The schools taking part were Cardinal Griffin Catholic College, Staffordshire University Academy, South Staffs Academy, Chase Terrace Technology School and Kingsmead.