The Royal Gibraltar Police, Department of Education and the Care Agency, have today launched a new campaign highlighting the issues and dangers of sharing explicit images online or via text messages- known as ‘sexting’, with the aim of engaging young people to encourage them to think about risks and what they can do to stay safe online.

The campaign was commissioned by the Gibraltar Child Protection Committee on advice given to them by the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Coordinator, after MAPPA representatives attended the UK National Conference for the National Organisation for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (NOTA). At the conference it was highlighted that young persons – as young as the age of 9 – were engaging in “Sexting”, a trend which had also begun to gain momentum locally.

RGP School Liaison Officers, as part of ongoing work with schools and other organisations, will be highlighting issues surrounding sexting and encouraging young people to think about their actions through the use of messages on posters, audio visual presentations and social media.

The campaign features advice for victims and messages that warn those who request ‘sexual images’ that they are potentially committing criminal offences.
Detective Inspector Enriles from the RGP Public Protection Unit, said: “Any image of yourself that you send, can and might be shared by the person you sent it to, or even be used for blackmail. Remember, once you press send, you can’t undo and can’t go back.”

He added: “Sexting’ is an activity we have become increasingly aware of amongst young people and many may not realise that what they are doing is illegal or that it may be potentially harmful to them in the future. We have already seen a very real impact on local victims. Although our reported numbers are not as high as in other jurisdictions we do believe that this is currently underreported and we wish to raise awareness in order to prevent our children from falling foul to “Sexting”. Children are growing up in an age of ever-changing technology and are learning their social norms through technology and social media. It falls upon us as adults to educate them and support them through the safe use of these technologies”.

“Specialist investigators trained in Safeguarding and Child Protection are able to deal with reports of this nature on a case by case basis. Based on vulnerability and risk, taking into account any age difference, repeat offending and repeat victims, a decision can then be made on an appropriate course of action.”

Minister of Justice, the Hon Neil F Costa said: “This campaign sends an important message to young people about how they can protect themselves online, but also as to the importance of reporting requests for sexual images and incidences of ‘sexting’ to the police, or to their teachers, parents and carers. All of us have a duty to safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people, both online and offline. It is vital that the appropriate structures and policies are in place to ensure that young people feel safe and confident enough to come forward and report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Simultaneously, the campaign sends a serious message that requesting sexual images from children is a criminal offence which may result in a criminal prosecution.”

Minister for Education, the Hon John Cortes, said: “While mobile technology has brought great benefits, it also brings serious dangers. This campaign highlights some of these and aims at helping to make a difference.”

• Visit the ThinkuKnow – an excellent online resource with information on internet safety
• You can also seek advice from – RGP specialist officers safeguarding@royalgib.police.gi
– The Care Agency at Referral.concernsforachild@careagency.gov.gi
– ChildLine on the 8008 helpline