Children as young as nine are ‘sexting’ indecent images of themselves which could unknowingly fall into the hands of sexual predators.
Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request has revealed 121 cases of ‘sexting’ involving children under 18 were reported to West Yorkshire Police last year.
These included a girl aged just nine years old.
And in three months, up to March this year, there were already 53 reports of ‘sexting.”
To prevent more children suffering the humiliation of images getting into the wrong hands, police are offering advice and support on all aspects of child sexual exploitation.
Safeguarding Awareness Week (October 17-23) sees officers working together to patrol bus and train stations across the county, speaking to young people about the dangers of child sexual exploitation and explaining what they should do if they have concerns for themselves or a friend.
Supt Darren Minton, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We have dedicated officers in safeguarding units across the county who are specially trained to deal with child sexual exploitation and will always put the needs of the victim first. All reports of child sexual exploitation (CSE) will be taken seriously and dealt with sensitively.
“We also want to reassure these young people that we are here to listen if they have concerns or any questions. Any young person can become a victim of CSE and no one will be judged or blamed for anything that has happened.
“The victim is never at fault and our specialist officers will always be sensitive to the needs and wishes of the young person concerned.
“Likewise, even if the report of suspected grooming turns out to be nothing, that’s ok. We would rather look into all reports than not be told because someone is worried that they have been mistaken.”
Safeguarding Week is a joint partnership between West Yorkshire Police, British Transport Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and local authorities.
As part of the campaign, a poster and social media campaign using the #WYSafeguardingWk is being rolled out across the county. Read more about the campaign at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/itsyourcall