London, March 25 Children as young as seven are engaged in sexting at school, and most teachers know about the extent of social media abuse among pupils, says a report by a Britain-based teachers’ union.

“Over half of teachers said they were aware of pupils using social media to send insulting or bullying messages of a sexist nature to other students,” said the report released by National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) on Friday.

A quarter of teachers knew of pupils involved in sexting who were just 11 years old, but the youngest child reported was just seven, the results of the survey showed.

However, the majority of pupils involved in such incidents were aged 13 to 16.

Over 1,300 teachers responded to the union’s survey on social media abuse which also found that half of teachers have had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils and parents.

“Over the three years the NASUWT has been running this survey the situation has deteriorated,” said Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT.

“Online abuse is traumatic and potentially life changing. Victims need strong support through a zero tolerance approach,” Keates noted.

Particularly concerning is that young people do not know they could be breaking the law by sending sexual images.

Another survey earlier had found that 30% of 11-16-year-olds experienced unkind online behaviour in the last year.

The ResearchBods study also looked at how much time young people were spending online, with 55% saying they interacted with their closest friends several times an hour.

Police have started warning teenagers of the legal aspects of what they text – and aim to have visited all schools by the end of the year with the “Think Before You Click” message.

The NSPCC has a Share Aware campaign aimed at parents of eight to 12 year olds.

The children’s charity says its own survey in 2013 found 40% of teenagers had created a sexual image or video.

The Share Aware Campaign is promoting the message that it is important for parents to make their children aware that they are responsible for all their actions whether they share explicit material from someone else or material produced by them.

One click, one pose can have a massive impact not only at present but for a lifetime.

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