Self-produced images and
young people.
COPINE Research
Adolescent Context
• Period of transition
• Characterised as marked increase in
complexity of group interactions & social
• Consolidation of social self
• Progressively more self conscious alongside
heightened interest in others
What happens when we take
this development online?
-we’ll take the next hour or so to
explore this together
What is the situation?
• Children & young people as consumers.
• Lack of agreement about language, laws and
• Increasingly, children are depicted in a sexual
way in western media.
• Current gulf between knowledge of children &
young people and those who are trying to
guide & protect.
Too much hype – or not?
• ‘A new generation of “multimedia” children
are spending an average of seven hours a day.
Glued to smartphones, iPods, TVs and video
games. Research has found that youngsters
aged between eight and 18 now spend almost
every waking minute outside school using
some electronic device’
– Sunday Times, 31 Jan 2010 in relation to the Kaiser Family Foundation
The evidence from Europe: Children
• In Europe 15-16 year olds spend 118 minutes
online per day, twice as long as 9-10 year olds
• 7 is average age for going online in Denmark
and Sweden, 8 in N Europe and 9 overall
• 49% go online in their bedroom
• 33% via a mobile phone
– EU Kids Online (
Going online is
embedded in
everyday lives and
is becoming
Opportunities and risks online
Adapted from: Livingstone et al. (2011) EU Kids Online Final Report.
Child as receiver
Child as participant
Child as actor
Educational resources
Contact with others
who share interests
Self-initiated or
collaborative learning
Participation & civic Global information
Exchange among
interest groups
Concrete forms of civic
Creativity & self
Diversity of resources
Inspired or invited to
User-generated content
Identity & social
Advice (personal/
Social networking,
shared experience
Expression of identity
Education & digital
5. Chat rooms/file sharing/blogging
4. Downloading music, p2p, webcam, message
3. Social networking, email, instant messaging
2. School work and games, video clips
1. School work and playing games online
A ladder of opportunities?
Child as receiver
Child as participant Child as actor
Being bullied
Commercial Embedded
Hasebrink et al. (2009)
Looking for
new friends
on the
to someone
never met.
information to
never met
Adding people
never met
Pretending to
be someone
Not all children are the same…
Which children do risky things?
• Older children, boys, sensation seekers.
• Those who use the Internet more places, longer, more
activities. USAGE
• Children who encounter more offline risks. RISK
• Those with more psychological vulnerabilities.
• Those who feel more comfortable online. SOCIAL
• Children with more digital literacy and safety skills.
Are they managing?
• Boy: when you are downloading music, there is a
screen at the side with a girl doing dirty stuff! (Spain,
Boy 14-16)
• A friend sent a message that was a picture of me and
I opened it and it was linked to a pornographic
website (Portugal, girl, 15)
• As soon as a pop up comes up, I don’t like it because
things will come up on pop ups…pop ups on pop
ups…a big pop up mess (UK, boy, 12)
• Ads come up with girls, in underwear…you can’t put
it off (Spain, boy, 14-16)
So what do we need to be
thinking about?
Sexual abuse and sexual
exploitation in abusive images?
• A spectrum of abusive and exploitative
• The child who is sexually assaulted and
• The child who is ‘modelling’ adult clothes and
sexual poses...
• The young person who shares sexual pictures
of themselves…
Children in abusive images.
Image-related offending.
Pensioner caught with hundreds of child
abuse pictures
A PERVERT pensioner caught with hundreds of child abuse pictures
told police that he had been advised by a nurse to look at
pornography to help his recovery from cancer.
ChildBase study
• At the time of the study, ChildBase held 807,525
unique still images.
• The final total of coded images was 24,550; the
majority of these images depicted children in
indecent or naked poses.
• Quayle & Jones 2011
• Odds of the abuse images being female versus male
were about 4 to 1, and the odds of the images being
of White children versus non-White children were
about 10 to 1
• Significant gender difference in age distribution of all
the children within the images
• Male children more likely to be prepubescent or very
young and less likely to be pubescent.
Estimated age of children in the sample.
Who are these children?
• Largely unknown…
• Context for many appears to be the same as
that of other contact offences.
• Some appear to be commercially produced.
• Many are domestic…
• Some are self-produced…
Abusive images?
NCMEC, Lees (2008)
By 2012, 30% of the images in the
database of the US National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children
were self-produced, approximately
half of these in a coercive
Self-generated content?
Camera phones…
Web cams…
Social networking sites…
Harvard Project Zero (James et al.,
“Through these technologies, young people are
participating in a range of activities, including
social networking, blogging, vlogging, gaming,
instant messaging, downloading music and
other content, uploading and sharing their
creations, and collaborating with others in
various ways” (p 220).
• 2002 Nokia launched first camera phones
• Over a quarter of adults in the UK (27 per
cent) and almost half of teenagers (47 per
cent) now own a smartphone (Ofcom, 2011).
• Convergence - consolidation of information
into a small number of sources, like Google,
and the evolution of multi-functional
hardware to handle this information, like the
Teens and photographs?
“… a safe place in which the
teens used photo-mediated
communication to
consolidate existing
friendships and ‘try on’
multiple, alternative selves
in a critical phase of their
– Durrant, Frohlich, Stellen &
Uzzell, 2011
• Practice of sending or posting sexually
suggestive text messages and images,
including nude or semi-nude photographs, via
cellular telephones or over the Internet
(Levick & Moon, 2010)
• Mobile phone may be used to post the image
to a social networking website like Facebook
or MySpace (McBeth, 2010).
• Cross-sectional national telephone survey of 1560
young Internet users, aged 10 to 17.
• 2.5% of young people had appeared in, or created,
nude or nearly nude pictures or videos. However this
reduced to 1.0% with reference to images that were
sexually explicit.
• 7.1% of young people said they had received nude or
nearly nude images of others and 5.9% of youth
reported receiving sexually explicit images.
• However few young people acknowledged
distributing these images.
– Mitchell et al., (2012)
School-based survey?
• 28% sent a naked picture of themselves
• 31% reported having asked someone for a sext
• 57% had been asked for a sext, with many
being bothered by having been asked.
• Those who had engaged in sexting more likely
to have begun dating and to have had sex.
– Temple, Paul, van den Berg, le, McElhany & Temple (2012)
Snapchat is the fastest
way to share a moment
with friends.
You control how long your
friends can view your
message - simply set the
timer up to ten seconds
and send.
They'll have that long to
view your message and
then it disappears forever.
We'll let you know if they
take a screenshot!
Typology of sexting
• Based on 550 law enforcement cases, of two
categories: ‘Aggravated’ and ‘Experimental’.
• Aggravated involved criminal or abusive
• Experimental incidents involved ‘romantic’
contexts or were acts of attention seeking.
– Wolak & Finkelhor (2011)
SWGfL survey (Phippen, 2009)
• Young people are very confident in the use of digital
technology to take and distributed images. 79% of
respondents saying they used such digital technologies to take
images and videos, and 78% said they distributed them.
• 40% do not see anything wrong with a topless image, and 15%
do not take issue with naked images.
• Sexting is prevalent among young people, with around 40%
saying they knew friends who carried out such practice.
• 27% of respondents said that sexting happens regularly or all
of the time.
SWGfL survey (Phippen, 2009)
• 56% of respondents were aware of instances where images
and videos were distributed further than the intended
recipient but only 23% believe this distribution is intended to
cause upset.
• 30% of young people knew people who had been adversely
affected by sexting.
• Only a minority (27%) believe young people need more
support and advice related to sexting and 70% will turn to
their friends if they were affected by issues related to sexting.
• Only 24% of young people would turn to a teacher for help if
they were affected by issues related to sexting.
US arrests for sexting?
• 3477 cases of youth-produced sexual images during 2008 and
2009 (US)). 2/3 of cases involved an “aggravating”
circumstance -either an adult was involved (36% of cases) or a
minor engaged in malicious, nonconsensual, or abusive
behavior (31% of cases).
• An arrest occurred in 62% of cases with an adult involved, in
36% of the aggravated youth-only cases, and in 18% of the
“experimental” cases (youth only and no aggravating
• Most of the images (63%) were distributed by cell phone only
and did not reach the Internet.
– Wolak et al., (2012)
NSPCC study (Ringrose et al, 2012)
• Key messages:
Threat from peers
Sexting is often coercive
Girls most adversely affected
Technology amplifies the problem
Sexting reveals wider sexual pressures
Ever younger children affected
Sexting practices are culturally specific
More support and resources vital
• 350 UK claimed cases of identified children in
the Interpol data base.
• 69.7% of the cases were female and ethnicity
was not evenly distributed (χ²= 1,552.69, df=5,
p < 0.001) with 95.1% being White.
Distribution of the ages of the children in the data base
Relationship with the person who took the image
Distribution of self-produced images and those taken by others
What are the back stories?
Early results from analysis of interviews
• When confronted with online bullying or sexting,
children higher in self-efficacy employ more
proactive coping strategies; but girls, younger
children and children with psychological problems
are more likely to remain passive or fatalistic.
• Parents who are occasional internet users feel less
confident in advising their children - so promoting
internet use among adults remains of paramount
– D’Haenens, Vandoninck & Donosco, 2013
Double jeopardy?
• Online and offline vulnerability are
interrelated. Children with more psychological
problems suffer more from online as well as
offline risks. They not only face more
difficulties managing their emotions, conduct
and social behaviour ‘in the real world’, but
are also more likely ‘in the online world’ to
feel bothered and more intensely upset.
Not a single phenomenon
Context to consider:
• Sexualised media
• Gender inequality
• Sexual arousal
• Role in relationships
• Role in trauma
• Role in psychological difficulties
The sexual child?
In these commercial arenas,
not only are young girls
encouraged to act like
mature, sexually active
women, but adult women are
objectified, reconstructed
and commoditized via
fashion, dieting and
cosmetics to appear as little
girls (Jewkes & Wykes,
…it’s so hard for me to see. I need a
picture of you. A special picture of
you. Just take a dirty picture, just
send the dirty picture to me..
Taio Cruz
Developing sexually in this world?
• What is this world they are in?
• With increasing privatisation, how do they
navigate it?
• When is something problematic and when is it
• How do we build a consensus on a practice
based response to this?
• How do we help young people protect
[email protected]
[email protected]
ISPCAN Dublin 2012