Not only is ‘sexting’ increasingly widespread among minors, but so is possession and dissemination of child porn material, police announced on Tuesday.
Speaking on CyBC radio, electronic crime department spokesman, Andreas Anastasiades, said the incidents were pervasive and extremely troubling.
“Whereas before the perpetrators were typically 50 to 60-year-old men, now boys under 18, and even under 16, have been implicated,” Anastasiades said.
“’Sexting’ incidents commonly involve girls sending graphic sexual images to boys as a kind of flirting,” the police spokesman said, which then get disseminated wider, sometimes to the entire school.
Anastasiades said while minors disseminating such images are not doing so for financial gain, the disturbing trend needs to be red-flagged and a strong message needs to be sent that it is a serious and criminal act.
The police rep urged parents and underage victims or recipients to report such incidents extremely promptly so that they can be effectively curtailed.
“Once the message has gone to the whole school, it is too late,” Anastasiades said.
The police chief blamed easy access of minors to legal pornographic material as a ‘gateway’ into child abuse sites.
Parents have the difficult responsibility to supervise their underage children’s activities without becoming intrusive or invasive of their right to privacy, Anastasiades acknowledged.
“Often teenagers will stay silent and put up with uncomfortable situations or harassment, believing themselves capable of ‘handling’ the situation by themselves, however, once the matter is reported to the police their relief is evident,” he said.
The announcement came in the wake of the most recent arrest of a 25-year-old educator accused of sexual abuse and harassement of students, who was remanded for eight says on Thursday.
The case was initially reported by a concerned parent who had taken the liberty of browsing through their child’s social media app postings.