Police in Sutton have received at least a dozen reports from secondary and junior schools since the start of the Autumn Term about pupils 'sexting' - the sending and passing on of explicit texts, images and video via mobile phone and other internet devices.
Most of the referrals to police have come from teachers who have received information from pupils about online sexualised behaviour.
The images include still photos and video of partly and fully undressed children and young people.
It is against the law for a child/young person to send an explicit image - even if it is a photo of themselves ('selfies'), or for a child/young person to pass on such an image.
Police schools officers believe that children are unwittingly putting themselves at risk of distress and harm by posting explicit images of themselves with little or no control over those images being seen and captured by internet users around the world who actively seek out such material.
Charities working in this sector say children seem to accept such behaviour as a normal part of growing up and tend to be reluctant to talk about it with their parents/carers because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away.
Detective Sergeant Mark Simpson, who works in the police Community Safety Unit, based at Sutton Police station, said police engage with children, parents and families and, where appropriate, work with partner agencies, such as Social Services. Whilst endeavouring to educate children and keep them out of criminal justice process, police will enforce the law where appropriate, he said.
Two free Community Safety presentations for parents to help keep children safe online have been arranged at the Sutton Life Centre on Tuesday, 20 October by the Safer Sutton Partnership Service, which is a joint team of police and council officers based at Sutton Police station, who manage the borough's community safety services.
The initiative is being supported by the Local Safeguarding Children Board, which comprises specialists from a number of organisations and leads on multi-agency co-ordination of child safety campaigns and learning events in Sutton Borough.
Parents will hear from two guest speakers who are specialists in protecting children from harm.
The first speaker will be Joanna Sharpen, who is the Children and Young People's Project Co-ordinator at Against Violence & Abuse (AVA), which is working to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Joanna advises the Government on children's issues and is working locally on a Big Lottery funded project with Limes College in Sutton to set up a group of students as peer educators.
The second speaker is Detective Constable Karen France from the Met Police Sexual Offences, Exploitation & Child Abuse Command. Det Con France is the Child Sexual Exploitation Special Point of Contact for Sutton Borough and attends the Borough's monthly, multi-agency child sexual exploitation meetings.
In addition, parents will be able to raise any issues or questions in person with Sutton's police officers, who work with teachers and pupils at Sutton's secondary schools, as well as the Council's e-safety officer, who gives talks about online safety at junior and secondary schools in the borough. Since the beginning of October, the Council's e-safety officer has spoken about online safety to more than 200 Year 7 pupils and more than 40 parents of Year 7 & 8 pupils in the borough.
To book your place at one of the Sutton Life Centre presentations which run for an hour from 12noon and 6pm,