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Would You Stand Naked In Front Of A School Assembly?

07 February 2017

This is the key question that principals and teachers in post primary schools in the Derry Strabane Council area are being asked to bring to their pupils this week.

A new initiative to highlight the dangers of sexting among young people is to be launched in the North West this month by a coalition of local agencies.

Sexting – the sending or sharing of explicit photos or videos online - has been identified as a major risk for teenagers who are often the victims of cyber bullying or exploitation.

Agencies working to protect young people from harm say sexting has very serious unforeseen consequences for teenagers, many of whom initially believe it is just a bit of fun.

“It’s not ok” is the message of a national and regional campaign about the dangers of sexting being run locally during Sexual Violence Week from 6 – 12th February.

The Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership and the Western Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership, an umbrella group for local agencies working to tackle abuse, have come together to highlight the dangers of sexting using the tagline #itsnotok

School principals, teachers, parents, youth workers and others are being urged to raise the issue and provide support for young people who have been affected.

They are being asked to help raise awareness about the dangers of sending or sharing nude images or videos online.

Such sharing can turn into a nightmare for some young people who realise, too late, that they have no control over where their images can end up.

Images shared online can be viewed by large numbers of people very quickly and in some cases have been used to bully and blackmail.
Research has shown that some teenagers believe sexting is the norm, is part of exploring sexual identity and is harmless because ‘everyone is doing it’.

Others, however, report that they feel under pressure to send images and find it hard to refuse. Others share photos to get attention.

Many teenagers don’t realise that after the image is sent, even to just one person, they have no control over where it ends up or how many people eventually view it.

Given these concerns, the Derry and Strabane PCSP and the Western Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership are asking principals in schools to invite young people in post primary schools to consider the question: “Would you stand naked in front of the school assembly?”, as the danger of the level of exposure and its consequences for the individuals involved can be similar as a result of sexting.

The organisers of the #itsnotok events and awareness raising campaign in the Derry Strabane area will be offering resources to schools and others working with young people that will include screen wipes which can attach to phones and will contain key messages and useful information to aid protection, prevention and support.

Schools and others working with young people are being asked to come forward to access help and support for any young person who is concerned about sexting and/or feels under pressure to send explicit photos.

Help will also be available to anyone who has had their image circulated on social media or may be concerned about someone else and is not sure how best to help.

Other members of the Western Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership across the area organising events during Sexual Violence Awareness Raising Week include: NEXUS; NSPCC; Foyle Women’s Aid; Men’s Action Network; Men’s Advisory Project; Western Health and Social Care Trust.

For further information about the campaign events please contact Vanessa Russell at Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership by emailing [email protected] or telephoning 028 71 253 253 or Priscilla Magee Chair Prevention Subgroup Western Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership Chair [07880723076].