Pupils from Robert May's School in Odiham are spreading a message of support to help other young people understand the risks of sending nude pictures.

The students presented their animated film at an event inside the chambers of Hart District Council in Fleet on Monday evening (February 6), organised ahead of World Safer Internet Day on Tuesday (February 7).

The invited audience included families, teachers and community safety professionals.

On national children's takeover day in November last year, Hampshire Constabulary ran a Police Apprentice competition as part of their campaign to prevent sexting.

Pupils from Robert May's School were crowned winners for their inclusive and original entry.

The winning idea

The winning idea was created and produced by six students - Alfie Payne (14), Chyanne Cox (14), Katherine Bowditch (13), Annabel Main (14), Charlotte Applin (14) and Anna Driver (13).

Their animation begins by warning other young people how one girl's nude picture can spread like 'wildfire' once it had been sent to someone else. We see the female character send a naked selfie to a boy, who then shares the picture with everyone he knows.

Robert May's School students collecting their prize from the judges at Hampshire Constabulary after the Police Apprentice sexting prevention campaign competition final on national children’s takeover day

Two theatrical masks represent the thoughts and emotions experienced by the female and male characters.

Towards the end of the film, a message of support is shared, encouraging young people to speak to someone they trust if they are encouraged to send a naked selfie to someone.

Work endorsed by police and partner agencies

The winning idea was selected by an panel of expert judges from organisations including the NSPCC , the National Crime Agency (NCA)'s CEOP command, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner's (OPCC) Youth Commission, a BAFTA award-winning computer game designer Gordon Ross and Hampshire Constabulary's Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen.

Since their win in November, the Robert May's students have been working with Hampshire Constabulary to develop their animation into a second film. This animation was shown as part of advice for World Safer Internet Day on Tuesday (February 7).

Another version of this film, which included British Sign Language (BSL), was produced and screened by the students for people with hearing loss. This followed positive comments from the judges last November about the inclusiveness of their original entry, which featured one of the students with sign language skills.

Everyone involved in the project is proud of the students' dedication and commitment to setting a positive example for other young people.

Hampshire Constabulary's school and youth engagement coordinator PC Maria Carrick said: "What we recognise and respect through our Police Apprentice initiative is the credibility and expertise that young people hold in developing solutions for issues that affect them.

"This is about educating and safeguarding so young people feel confident in speaking with the police, and seeking help."

Access to support

Julia Fossi, NSPCC's associate head of child online safety, said: "It is important that young people can access support and information if they are being pressured to take part in sexting or have lost control of an image.

"When a young person takes and shares a self-generated sexual image, they cannot control who views it, leaving them at risk of bullying by peers or being target by adult sex offenders.

"If a young person is worried about an image they have shared, they can talk to a Childline counsellor who will work with the Internet Watch Foundation to try and remove the image from the internet. They can speak to a counsellor by ringing 0800 11 11 or online by visiting the Childline website .

"The NSPCC has created a guide for parents on talking to their children about sexting, and getting images removed from circulation, as well as other issues relating to their online world.

"Parents can also contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 if they are worried about a child or for support in getting an image of their child removed from the internet."

One of the judges from last November's Police Apprentice final panel, Sophie Smith, from the Hampshire OPCC Youth Commission, said: "The Youth Commission aims to get the voice of young people heard so it's really important that we have events where people can play an active role within different crime related issues."

More than a third of young people know someone affected by sexting

An anonymous survey of more than 900 students across local secondary schools in 2016, conducted by Hampshire Constabulary, produced the following responses

  • 13% (of 862 who answered this question) did not think it was against the law for young people aged under 18 to take, send or share naked selfies or images of a sexual nature
  • 17% were not sure
  • More than a third (36% of 852 who answered this question) of students said they or someone they knew had been involved directly or had been affected by sexting
  • When asked if they would know what to do if sexual or naked images of themselves or a friend were shared with others or used against them, 40% said no

Next stages of the campaign

This animated film will now form part of Hampshire Constabulary's ongoing work with schools and young people to increase understanding on the law and the consequences of sharing nude pictures online and via digital devices.