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The implication is that this is not already sufficiently clearly defined as criminal behaviour.
Samantha Pegg does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.View the full list The government’s announcement of a new offence which criminalises the sending of sexual messages to children by adults focuses on a very narrow perceived loophole in the existing legislation surrounding child sexual abuse.The prime minister, David Cameron, has cited the “increasing and alarming phenomenon” of paedophiles contacting children online or by text message with requests to take and send nude photos.However, if you disclose your name and location and are under 18 or if we fear that you are in danger of committing suicide (or otherwise as required by law), we may have to provide information you have given us to the appropriate authorities.Read the full terms Visitors to the Online Hotline sometimes experience psychological, emotional, and physical effects of sexual violence.Who will judge what is and is not a “sexual message”?
The Sexual Offences Act Section 15 neatly sidesteps this question by stating that the communication with the child need not be sexual – the crux of the offence is the intention of the offender to meet the child.Equally important is the definition of adult: the same Act defines adults as being over 18, while there is no such age restriction for offences dealing with child abuse image.The concern, something already raised, is that the criminalisation of children for “sexting”, where young people have sent partially clothed images of themselves to their peers.Essentially it is an offence to encourage a child to do something sexual – this could include removing their clothing – and by including incitement, the offence occurs whether or not the activity encouraged (say, undressing or taking a photo) actually takes place.Also relevant is the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which makes the possession of child abuse images illegal.And here, the offence occurs regardless of whether the message was received or not.