Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
[Superintendent Tim Martin (Staffordshire Police), Robert Simpson (Regulatory Services Group Manager, Stafford Borough Council) and Dave Anslow (Manager, Children & Young Peoples Voice Project) in attendance for this item.]
The Select Committee received regular reports on the work the County Council and its partners undertake to address Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). CSE remains a priority for both the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB). The Child Sexual Abuse Forum (CSAF) was established jointly by the two LSCBs and their partners as an effective way to share information, coordinate and drive the work to address sexual abuse and to hold agencies to account for promoting effective local working together arrangements.
Members watched a DVD entitled “For the Whole World to See”, produced by Burton and South Derbyshire College, which showed the possible consequences of sexting. The Select Committee felt this was an excellent tool to use in schools and more broadly within the community to help raise awareness of the consequences of sexting and specifically the illegal nature of taking, owning and sharing such pictures. They were informed of the breadth of work undertaken to address the current perception that sexting was “normal” and the importance of delivering the message in an age appropriate way and in a format that young people take note of, ie not using posters or leaflets but making good use of social media. In general delivery of awareness raising in schools via a third party worked better than delivery from school staff as pupils tended to find this less awkward.
Whilst it was important to ensure young people were aware of the illegal nature of sexting there was no intention to criminalise them. However once an image was shared on social media it became available world wide and there were examples of blackmail and exploitation resulting from sexted images. It was important for young people to understand the implications of how these images could be used. Members also felt that it was crucial for parents to be educated on this issue.
Members were aware that schools had the discretion to determine what issues were raised within their Personal, Social, Health & Economic (PHSE) lessons and the manner of delivery. However they felt strongly that use of the DVD should be encouraged. It was suggested that one way to support the awareness raising and use of the DVD was via the Governing Body, with governor training raising awareness and advising governors to check how their schools were addressing the issues and challenge where this work wasn’t being done.
Members also heard that whilst every effort was undertaken to work together to remove on-line images, technology advanced at such a pace it was not always a straight forward process. Operation Safenet continued to work to address this sort of issue, however preventing the images being taken and/or shared was key to reducing the risks involved in sexting.
Members noted that there was an identified inconsistency in the delivery of PHSE education across Staffordshire schools. The need to develop ... view the full minutes text for item 3