The revelation that some children of primary school aged now engage in sexting has worried many parents. 


Talking about sex is a difficult topic at the best of times, and many children won't feel comfortable discussing the issue with their parents. 


If you are concerned, here are some practical ways you can protect your child.



1. Have an open dialogue about sex and sexuality at home

If your child has engaged in any form of sexting, they may be scared to talk about it or worry you will judge them. 


A good way to talk about sexting is mentioning an article you read or heard, and see if your child is open to discussion.


If your child tells you something upsetting or shocking, treat it seriously, but remain calm.



2. Access to your child's phone or internet passwords

Make sure you know your child's passcode and passwords for any internet accounts they may have. 


Be vigilant, and check their internet search history, also. 


This can be introduced as a condition for you paying for their phone.



3. Remind your child of the law 

Your child needs to know that forwarding explicit images or messages from someone else is wrong, and sharing explicit photos of a minor is illegal.


There is no need to frighten them to death, but they do need to be aware of the law.



4. Teach your child respect and boundaries

A confident child who has developed personal boundaries will find it easier to say 'no' when asked to do something they are uncomfortable with. 


Remind your child that no friend/ person who cares about them would put pressure on them to do something they don't want to do. 


Talking about sex and sexuality in a respectful manner at home will encourage your child to adopt a similar attitude.



5. Encourage your child to report sexual bullying 

If your child sees other children using sexting as a means to bully or hurt another child, will they report it?


Encourage your child to stand up for others and tell an adult about any behaviour that makes them uncomfortable, even if it doesn't involve them.


Remind them they are NOT responsible for either the bully or the victim but, by speaking up, they can help.



6. Remind your child to think about long-term consequences

Children and young adults can be very impulsive and do not always grasp the long-term consequences of actions. 


Remind them that, once a photo has been sent, there's no way to 'take it back' - and the same goes for internet posts. 



7. Keep in touch with teachers and other parents

These people share the same concerns as you, and they may have spotted a change in behaviour or something you need to know about.



8. Supervise your child while they're on the phone.

Know what your child uses their phone for, and who they talk to; and monitor the photos they take. 


Have a designated place to keep phones at night - don't allow them to take them into their bedrooms. 


Set a good example and leave your phone here, too.