As of April 3rd 2017, it will be illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child. This will include online and offline communication as well as through social media, emails and letters. Any offenders can look at 2 years in prison and automatically registered as a sex offender.
In 2014 the NSPCC launched a campaign known as ‘Flaw in the Law’ to call for a clear new offence that would make it illegal for an adult to send a child a sexual message. Over 50,000 people signed the petition with 80% stating it should be illegal and that 3 out of 4 people thought it already was.
Sexual communication from an adult to a child is already an offence in Scotland, however England and Wales police are powerless to intervene. Although anti-grooming laws were created 2 years ago, they were yet to be brought into force.
Has your child ever received a sexual message?
Stay Calm– Talk to the child calmly and sensitively. It is key that they have told you in the first place so ask appropriate and relevant questions to the child feels comfortable. Ask what happened and if they know who has sent the message.
Report It– Call the police to report the incident.
Check the privacy settings– Check the privacy settings on any device or social media account is set correctly and used appropriately. Ensure the child understands privacy settings and how to use them and that any parental controls are put in place.
Offer help–Talk openly with the child and let them know you are there to talk to. Explain there are other services such as Child Line who are available to talk to at any time.