An unprecedented compensation payment of £25,000 ($37,545) has been awarded to a girl who was encouraged to send sexually-explicit text messages to a teacher at her school.
As well as receiving a three-year criminal sentence for manipulating the girl into sending sexual images, William Whillock, vice-principal of The New School for children with special needs, is the first person in the UK to be made to pay civil damages.
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Speaking to the BBC, lawyer at Bolt Burdon Kemp, David McClenaghan, said:
“This is groundbreaking law… This case establishes that anybody who is manipulated into sending or receiving sexually-explicit text messages or images – we call it ‘sexting’ – and then goes on to suffer harm, could bring a claim for compensation.
“We now have apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp and it’s a very regular occurrence for people, children, to be exchanging sexually-explicit images. The scale of these cases is potentially enormous.”
Although supportive of “serious punishments” for offenders, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has warned that this may create a tit-for-tat suing culture among young people.
“While damages could help discourage potential abusers, there is a danger that young people could just use this as a way to get cash by suing one another.
“It’s important for victims to get justice. But it’s equally important to educate children about not sharing this kind of explicit material.”