For that first time, police numbers have exposed that around 30% of documented incidents of revenge porn concerned young adults under the age of 19. In the months since April 2015, when it was criminalized, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC has revealed that over 1,000 incidents were reported to the police.
Revenge porn is the act of releasing private videos or pictures of sexual nature without the spouse or ex-partner’s permission.
17 -year-old Daniel Perry killed himself after he was blackmailed over erotic pictures he’d published online. Additional victims have talked within the aftermath of the crime of the suicidal thoughts. In three cases, children as young as 11 were the victims.
Other victims have spoken of their suicidal feelings in the aftermath of the crime.
While the three youngest victims were only 11, the oldest were in their 60s.
Helplines say that members of law enforcement, teachers and social workers in their 20s and 30s are just as likely to fall prey as naive teenagers.
Experts say it can also be part of the “coercive control” exerted by manipulative and violent partners over their victims.
“This is a large and growing problem, and is causing huge amounts of harm to victims,” says former Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, who campaigned for the legislation which made revenge porn an offense.
“Too many perpetrators managed to persuade themselves that they were doing nothing wrong because it wasn’t illegal, and that has now changed.
“However, legislation can only ever be part of the solution – what we need is much better consent-based sex and relationships education, so that people are clear that this kind of humiliating behavior in unacceptable. Social change is the best way to protect people.”
An NSPCC spokesman said: “It is shocking that children as young as 11 are becoming victims of revenge porn – and underlines the urgent need for action by social media sites to improve safety.
“Young people also need to be aware of the serious risks of sending explicit material or photos of themselves. Once an image is sent there is no control over where it will end up or who will see it.”
Sarah Green, director of the campaign group End Violence Against Women, said that women’s charities have been aware for some time that revenge porn “often forms part of a pattern of domestic and sexual violence”.
“The threat of it can be used to coercively control victims, just as the threat of withdrawing access to children can be used to manipulate and harass,” she said.
“We were delighted when the Government brought in this law but we think the protection of anonymity, as there is for victims in other sex crimes, would make people more likely to come forward.
“We also think that compulsory sex education, challenging the culture in schools which regards sexually active girls as ‘slags’ and ‘whores’ is essential. The concept of consent extends to spreading sexual images too.
“The comparison we would draw is with drink-driving, when a change in the law changed attitudes over time. It’s not the case that our internet culture somehow makes revenge porn inevitable.”
Carolyn Bunting, general manager of internet safety body Internet Matters, said: “The fact more than three out of 10 incidents of so-called revenge appears to involve under 19 year olds brings to the fore how important it is for children to be protected online so they’re able to explore the digital world without fear.
“There will no doubt be many more who are victims and have not reported it to the police and are suffering in silence.
“Our main focus is to help parents stop their children falling into this trap in the first place, through communication and education.
“It’s always a tricky conversation to have, but we’d encourage parents to talk to their children about the danger of sending explicit images.”
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