Tackling teen sexting—policing challenges when society and technology outpace legislation
Authors: Bond, E. and Phippen, A.
Concerns over cyberattacks, identify theft, ransomware and online fraud dominate the language of cybercrime and attract considerable public and political attention. Yet within the discourses of online risk, fears surrounding children and young people online remain at the forefront of media and policy debate. In modern society children have become the object of social concern and increasing anxiety about risk, superimposed on protective discourses, located as vulnerable innocents and sexting has attracted considerable attention as a moral panic. Drawing on data from police forces across the UK, this chapter outlines the ad hoc nature of police responses to the complex challenges of the production and sharing of intimate images by young people and it both raises concerns about the inconsistent application of legislation resulting in the criminalisation of minors who may be victims of abuse, and questions effective use of Outcome 21 as an alternative to arrest for young people in the UK since its introduction in 2016.