Scary sexting epidemic in the UK

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 08:59 hrs

London: A new report has revealed that boys and girls as young as 13 are routinely swapping explicit photos of themselves, a practice known as 'sexting'.

The study found that children are so sexualized that the practice has become 'mundane and mainstream'.

"I get asked for naked pictures at least two or three times a week," a girl told researchers.

"You would have seen a girl's breasts before you've seen their face' while another youngster referred to so-called sexting as 'the new flirting,'" a boy said.

According to the Daily Mail, pupils aged from 13 to 16 admitted to Channel 4 News that intimate photos helped them decide who to date.

One told the programme that her father would have asked girls for a kiss when he was her age 'but now it's kind of - do you want to have sex'.

"It might shock parents this is what kids get up to but it's just everyday life. It's natural - it's all part of growing up," a boy of the same age said.

A 14-year-old girl from Berkshire said she received messages asking her to reply with a smiley face if she wanted sex or another phone symbol if she would prefer to perform a sex act on the sender.

Insight into the pornography increasingly exchanged by young teenagers came from interviews carried out for the NSPCC and Channel 4's Generation Sex series.

According to the report, the research, based on focus groups with 220 Year Nine pupils aged 13 and 14, found they were becoming sexualised earlier, largely because pornography was easy to find online.

Professor Phippen, who is a social responsibility expert, also held sessions with 10- and 11-year-olds and found that most have received online abuse as well as messages from strangers.

A 15-year-old girl said that boys expected certain things of girls because they had become used to seeing it in online pornography.

The boys told the study team that in the absence of decent sex education, they were turning to online porn to learn about sex and relationships, the report added.

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