Training conference

Sexting – understanding the culture of sharing intimate images amongst children and young people and the risks involved

Held in advance of Safer Internet Day on 5th February, this one-day national conference will provide attendees with training on some of the key issues around youth-produced sexual images (‘sexting’) and consent, enabling them to use that training as part of their own work with children and young people on Safer Internet Day.

Amongst a range of expert speakers, Professor Ethel Quayle CBE will deliver a keynote address exploring her recent and ongoing research into coercive and non-coercive self-produced sexual images by adolescents. Jess McBeath will lead an interactive session on the risks and issues for children, young people and professionals, including exploring available educational resources such as those produced for Safer Internet Day 2019.

Using a mix of presentations and interactive roundtable sessions, the event will encourage participants to explore:

  • The sexting culture amongst children and young people – what the evidence tells us
  • Is sexting a child protection issue and when should the incident be reported formally?
  • The impact of taking and sharing sexually explicit images
  • The link between pornography and sexting
  • Advice on the resources available for professionals and parents
  • The legal landscape and the policing approach to children and young people involved
  • How to provide young people with effective support and guidance in this area


PROFESSOR ETHEL QUAYLE CBE, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh and Director of COPINE
JESS MCBEATH, Online Safety Specialist, Lemon Tree Consulting
STUART ALLARDYCE, National Manager, Stop It Now! Scotland
JOANNA BARRETT, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, NSPCC Scotland (Conference Chair)
Sexual crime figures have risen over the past few years and it is estimated that half the growth in all recorded sexual crime has come from growth in cyber-enabled ‘Other Sexual Crimes’.

Much media attention is paid to image-based abuse including sextortion, revenge pornography and upskirting/downblousing. However, as the 2016-17 Scottish crime statistics show, the issue of social media and mobile technology as a platform to exchange intimate images voluntarily amongst children and young people is becoming increasingly prevalent.

In 2016-17, there were 1,166 recorded cases of ‘communicating indecently’ and 1,030 cases of ‘cause to view sexual activity or images’. For cyber-enabled offences, the mostly likely ‘perpetrators’ were boys aged 16-19 and the most likely ‘victims’ were girls aged 13-15.

Research – including the SPIRTO and STIR projects – highlight that the sending of nude selfies is now one of the most fundamental aspects to many young people’s sexual development and relationships, with around half of UK children surveyed having self-produced sexual images.

What is not so well understood are the underlying reasons for why this has become the case and what the legal and educational landscape looks like in this challenging area.

As young people can be charged with offences for sharing images of themselves or others if they are under the age of 18 (with all the long term repercussions that includes), it is essential that those involved in their care and support can effectively guide them through this minefield.

We are currently working on the programme for this event and will update this area of the webpage soon.
If you are interested in speaking or contributing to the discussions, contact Mark on 0131 344 4611 or

Professor Ethel Quayle CBE, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh and Director of COPINE
Ethel Quayle is Professor of Forensic Clinical Psychology in the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh and Director of COPINE. A clinical psychologist who has worked with both sex offenders and their victims, for 20 years she has researched technology-mediated crimes against children, collaborating internationally with government and non-government agencies in the context of research, policy and practice.

Recent EU-funded research examined the function of coercive and non-coercive self-produced sexual images by adolescents and NSPCC-funded research on deterrence of possession of images.

Ethel plays an active role in a number of government and non-government organisations and, in 2018, she received a CBE for services to the Online Welfare of Children and Young People.

Jess McBeath, Online Safety Specialist, Lemon Tree Consulting
Jess McBeath specialises in online safety and digital citizenship within a Scottish context. She works with organisations that deliver services to children and young people to improve their knowledge, skills, policy and practice around online safety. Jess is a member of AACOSS (Association of Adult and Child Online Safety Specialists), a schools Online Safety Mark Assessor and CEOP Ambassador.

Jess has been awarded the NSPCC Childhood Champion Award as Schools Volunteer for Scotland 2018. Her career spans the public, private and voluntary sectors and she has a degree in Linguistics & Artificial Intelligence as well as an MBA.

Stuart Allardyce, National Manager, Stop It Now! Scotland
@StopItNowScot @Sallar1
Stuart is National Manager of the child protection charity Stop It Now! Scotland. As a social worker he spent 16 years as a practitioner and manager working with children with problematic and harmful sexual behaviours as well as managing services for children affected by sexual abuse. He is the chair of the Scottish branch of the National Organisation of the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA) as well as chair of the NOTA UK and Ireland Policy and Practice subcommittee. He is an Associate at the Centre of Youth and Criminal Justice at Strathclyde University and a visiting researcher there. He is co-author of the book, ‘Working with Children and Young People who have displayed Harmful Sexual Behaviour‘, published in June 2018.

Joanna Barrett, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, NSPCC Scotland
@NSPCC_Scotland @Joanna_Barrett
Joanna Barrett has been NSPCC Policy and Public Affairs Manager in Scotland for the last five years, and has led on the development of NSPCC Scotland’s policy activity on issues like infant mental health, preventing child maltreatment and online safety. Previous to this, she worked in policy and influencing roles for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the National Autistic Society.

The early bird discount for this event ended on Friday 30 November 2018.

A group booking discount is available for this event. Book two delegates and get a third place at half-price. Offer valid until Friday 01 February 2019. To take advantage of this offer, just enter the discount code GROUP3 on the booking form.


Private sector rate
(Commercial organisations – Ltd, plc, LLP etc)

Public sector rate
(Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, NHS, police, universities and colleges etc.)

Third sector rate
(Charities, voluntary and community groups, tenant and patient groups, professional bodies, trade unions etc)

SPECIAL RATES (note: other promotional offers, including early bird discounts, are not valid with special rates)

Schools rate
Available to all attendees from schools

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COSLA Conference Centre,
Verity House,
19 Haymarket Yards,
EH12 5BH

Tel: +44 (0)131 474 9200

COSLA Conference Centre


By Rail, Haymarket Station.
Approximately 5 minutes walk.

By Air, Edinburgh Airport.
Approximately 15 minutes away.

By car…

Directions to and from COSLA