Mobile phones and the criminal offences unwittingly being committed by your child

Mobile phones and the criminal offences unwittingly being committed by your child

As a parent, I receive from my children’s school at least five emails every month in relation to internet security. The email will usually state that it is important to put parental controls on electronic devices and monitor what your child is doing online.

It is extremely concerning just how vulnerable your child is and what dangers lurk on the internet.

But I don’t remember ever receiving an email telling me how my child might misuse their mobile phone at school and fall foul of the criminal law by, for instance, “sexting” or “up skirting”. These behaviours have been reported in the press as a major issue in both secondary and, astonishingly, primary schools.

I find it staggering that more emphasis is not placed on the responsible use of mobile telephones, despite many children owning a mobile phone by the time they reach ten – which happens to be the age of criminal responsibility.

It is so important as parents that we monitor the use of mobile phones by our children and regularly discuss appropriate content and behaviour. To highlight just how important it is, you have only to read the article published in the East Anglian Daily Times on Thursday 17th June 2021 . Ofsted Inspector, Amanda Spielman, found that around nine out of ten girls had reported incidents of being sent unwanted explicit pictures or videos. This is a criminal offence. It was also concerning to see the reporting of frequent incidents of sexual name calling which, even if not a criminal offence on its own, should be unacceptable in a school setting (or indeed anywhere else).

As a solicitor, I deal with children who have either been invited to the police station on a voluntary basis to be interviewed under caution or have been arrested for this type of offence. The exchange of explicit images of children between children over social media is happening now. Your child may even be involved whether or not you are aware of it. These offences can result in children being placed on the sex offenders register. It is as serious as that.

A child does not have to be taken to court to end up on the register.

As parents we only want the best for our children. Take a second to imagine how you would cope if you received that phone call from the police asking your son, or daughter, to attend the police station. The police will explain to you that the interview will be carried out under caution. The subject matter of the interview will be distasteful and entirely inexplicable to you. It may be difficult for you to discuss with your child and they may find it difficult to discuss with you. Make no bones about it, the police will deal with allegations of this sort as suspected child abuse.

If you find that you need help in this difficult area of law, please contact me or any member of our criminal law team. We will be able to guide you and your family through what is, we know, a frightening and bewildering experience for all concerned.

Call Matthew Swash on 01473 298181  or email [email protected].

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