75pc of teen girls feel pressured to 'sext' nude photos
Almost three-quarters of teenage girls say they have faced pressure to send nude images on their mobile phones, according to a student survey in one school.
Students at Ardscoil Mhuire, Limerick, said laws need to be updated to reflect the behaviour of young people when it comes to so-called "sexting".
Pupil Erin Barrett said: "We noticed it becoming a huge issue in our class when we did a survey and 20 out of 27 girls in our class said they had been faced with the issue."
The survey of transition year students was answered anonymously, meaning pupils were able to reveal the extent of the problem which is often kept hidden.
"I wasn't really surprised because it happens a lot and a lot of girls in our class have experienced it. But everyone was shocked because you wouldn't really talk about it," said Erin.
When the class set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of sexting and the negative impact it can have, an "anonymous nude" was sent to the account the day it opened.
Another student involved in the project, Sarah McDarby, said many of their peers were unaware the distribution of pornographic images of young people is illegal under the 1998 Child Trafficking and Pornography Act.
"We wanted people to come forward about it and not feel they should hide it or not tell anybody.
"A lot of people are pressured into sending them," she said.
The students believe those engaging in harmful sexting will only be discouraged if they fear the consequences.
"There is a need for modernisation of this law. There are no clear protocols to deal with sexting between two minors," said Sarah.
The students were among more than 100 winners in the first ever Garda National Youth Awards, which were presented by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in Portlaoise at the weekend.
Awards were presented across a number of categories to individuals and groups of young people aged between 13 and 21.
Another winner was Razan Abdel Wahed, a Syrian refugee who has settled in Ennistymon, Co Clare, with her widowed mother and two siblings.
One of her brothers died in the war in Syria and the family were in a refugee camp in Lebanon before coming to Ireland.
Since arriving in 2016, the 20-year-old has completed her Leaving Certificate and now studies art in college.
"At the beginning it was very hard for us because we didn't have the language, we didn't have any information about Ireland.
"But now it's getting easier," said Razan.
Now a fluent English speaker, she won the award for her voluntary work helping Syrian women engage with health services and for her assistance with younger refugees who are still in school.
Ruby Hurst (20) and Odhran O'Neill (19) won a community safety award for saving the life of a student who collapsed suddenly after a PE class in Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.
They used their CPR and defibrillator training, which they received from Irish Water Safety, to keep their fellow student alive while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
"We gave him three shocks and four rounds of compressions and worked on him continuously," Ruby recalled.