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Sexting

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th November 2014.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many incidents of sexting among pupils have occurred in schools in England and Wales in each of the last five years; and what guidance her Department issues to schools on this matter.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

The Department for Education does not collect data on incidents of sexting among pupils. All schools in England are required, by law, to have a behaviour policy which includes measures to tackle bullying, including cyberbullying which covers sexting. We have not produced specific advice on sexting but we have issued clear and succinct advice to schools on preventing and tackling bullying, including cyberbullying. This information is published online at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-and-tackling-bullying

Certain instances of bullying, harassment and threatening behaviour, including the sharing of indecent images should be reported to the police. This is made clear in our advice to schools. Good schools create an ethos where bullying, including cyberbullying and sexting do not happen in the first place, and they deal with it promptly if it does occur to ensure the victim does not suffer continuing distress.

From September 2014, e-safety is being taught at all four key stages of the curriculum in England. It covers responsible, respectful and secure use of technology, as well as ensuring that pupils are taught age-appropriate ways of reporting any concerns they may have about what they see or encounter online.

Children and young people are being taught about the different and escalating risks they may encounter as they get older (initially relating to online content, then to the conduct of and contact with others, which can include sexting).

Schools can help to contain cyber-bullying and sexting during the school day by banning or limiting the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices. Search powers included in the Education Act 2011 have given teachers the power to search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images (or files) on electronic devices, including mobile phones.

Ofsted now holds schools clearly to account for how well they deal with behaviour and bullying. Since January 2012, inspectors must consider pupils’ freedom from bullying, including cyberbullying, harassment and discrimination. In January 2014, Ofsted produced briefing for inspectors when considering e-safety in schools. This makes clear that school inspectors should consider the schools’ ability to protect and educate pupils in their use of technology.

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