Beth is an ambitious, middle-class young girl, from a supportive and loving family.If you have a teenager, they could be doing the same. Bear in mind that even Eton College has banned photo sharing mobile phone app, Snapchat, over concerns it was being used to exchange explicit pictures and texts.
By the time I was 15, half the girls in my year were getting similar images.‘He kept asking to see more, but I didn’t send one as I’d seen other girls called sluts for doing so.Beth recalls: ‘One girl I knew didn’t even realise her picture had been shared, but I saw a group of lads ripping her to shreds at a party, saying her boobs were not good enough, as if she was on a porn website.It was horrible to hear.‘But these days if you don’t have the stereotypical big bouncy breasts, you are made to feel you are not good enough.Snapchat has become the preferred method for swapping the images as it allows users to send pictures or videos, known as ‘Snaps’, because they disappear from the recipient’s phone after a maximum of ten seconds - thus avoiding detection by parents and teachers.A Bristol study recently found ‘sexting’ has fast become the norm in teenage courtship, with almost half of 13 to 17-year-old girls saying they have been sent explicit pictures and videos, and two in five admitting to sending them back. Sending a naked image of someone below the age of 18 counts as an offence of distributing an indecent image of a child.He received around 100 pictures from five girls, all under 16, at school, and only had a proper relationship with one.
The process followed a set pattern: Flirty messages would be exchanged, followed by ‘selfies’, standing semi-clothed in front of a mirror.
The number of images removed by the web watchdogs has doubled from around 31,000 in 2014 to more than 60,000 last year.
Jon Brown, head of strategy at the NSPCC, says: ‘Children aged ten to 13 are now the biggest risk group because they are being given more sophisticated phones, without the maturity to handle sexting requests or knowing where a request is coming from.’For Beth’s 42-year-old mother Clare, the discovery that her daughter had been sexting came as a complete shock.
Jake, currently single, says: ‘Girls seem to know from pop videos and porn what they are supposed to do.
A few years ago, a boy might have been happy to be sent a picture of a pair of breasts, but not any longer.‘I regret it because it made life more complicated at a time when I should have been concentrating on my school work.
Then, the final, crucial step: She cropped off her head, and any identifiable features, and sent the picture to a boy she was dating at school - the one who’d sent her a similarly racy picture of himself the night before.