No adult should be deliberately sending sexual messages to children, but incredibly it is not always illegal. Existing laws are a hotch-potch and sex offenders can and do exploit the loopholes. The rise of online communication means that children are increasingly being exposed to sexual messages from adults, on social networks or through messaging apps, but in many cases the police are powerless to act.
Currently, old laws are being stretched to fit new paedophile behaviour. The Serious Crime Bill now being debated in Parliament is a timely opportunity to tailor the law to better protect children from sexual abuse. And we’re asking every member of the public to get behind our Flaw in the Law campaign.
Loopholes in current laws
There have been reported convictions of adults in Scotland for communicating sexually with children under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. However, the NSPCC believes that under the current law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is unlikely that similar cases would have led to a criminal prosecution, unless the abuse had escalated.
Eight out of ten people support a change in the law
More than eight out of ten people polled by YouGov said they would support a change in the law which is why we’re asking everyone to make their signature count and sign our online petition.
Children increasingly seeking counselling for online sexual abuse
The number of children counselled by Childline about online sexual abuse increased 168% last year. One teenage girl told Childline: “There’s this guy sending me disgusting messages online. He started off being really nice and giving me loads of compliments but now all he talks about is how he wants me to do sexual things for him. I’ve seen a photo of him and he’s definitely a lot older than what he said he was so the whole situation is making me really uncomfortable.”
If you support a ban on adults sending sexual messages to children, sign the NSPCC’s ‘Flaw in the Law’ petition.