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Help & Information

Young people can share them across any app, site or game, including during a livestream. Many young people also share them on social media channels.

Sexting might seem like a harmless way to flirt or show your boyfriend or girlfriend how much you like them, but although you may trust the person you’ve sent it to right now, people can change and relationships can break-up. Once you click send, there’s no way to get your pictures and messages back. It’s quite possible your ex or friend will delete them after the relationship ends or you have a fight, but what if they don’t?

Sexting includes:

  • Posing in a sexual position
  • Being partly or completely naked
  • Talking about sexual things you’re doing, have done or want to do
  • Doing sexual things on a livestream

What are the risks of Sexting?

Whether you send or share the photos, sexting can cause serious problems. The photos might get sent around or posted online, where people like your family, teachers and friends could see them. They could even be uploaded to a website where strangers can view them. Sharing these pictures or messages without permission is a serious violation of privacy and if the pictures you send or share are of someone under 18yrs (even if they’re of you), you could even be arrested for child pornography, which is a serious crime.

Other risks include:

  • Losing control of the images, videos or messages and how they’re shared. Once something is shared online it becomes public and can be saved or copied by others.
  • Blackmail, bullying and harm. Young people can have their photos, messages or videos shared without their consent or be bullied about them. This can lead to them feeling difficult emotions like distress or embarrassment and shame.

 

Sexting and the Law 

Is Sexting Illegal?

This depends on what the image is or what the chat involves and who it is sent between. However, it is a crime to possess, take, make, distribute or show anyone an indecent or abuse image of a child or young person under 18 years of age. Always remember that, while the age of consent is 16, the relevant age in relation to indecent images is 18.

What if a child (under 18 years of age) takes a sexually explicit image of themselves?

If you’re under 18 it is against the law to make and possess a sexually explicit image (naked or semi naked) or video of yourself. You are committing a further offence if you then share that image or video with another person and the person who receives the image or video will also be liable for an offence of possessing the image.

 

It is also against the law for anyone to save or share that image or video of you. Even if it’s a selfie or they’re under 18 too. It is also against the law to save or share a nude or sexual video of anyone else who is under 18 if one is sent to you.

Why do young people sext?

There are a number of reasons why young people may want to send sexual messages, images or videos to another person.

These include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Being blackmailed, threatened or harassed by someone
  • To increase their self-esteem
  • To prove their sexuality
  • To flirt with someone
  • Feeling worried about being seen as ‘not sexy’, or ‘shy’ if they don’t
  • Feeling confident about themselves – and wanting to share their confidence and pride with others
  • Feeling like they ‘owe’ their boyfriend or girlfriend and being made to feel guilty if they don’t
  • Being in love with someone and fully trusting them
  • They’re in a long distance or online relationship and want to have sexual relationship

What to do if you're under pressure to send a 'nude'

Sexting should always be consensual so it’s never okay for someone to pressure you into sending a ‘nude’.

Part of being in a healthy relationship is being able to say what you think without feeling worried or scared.

Feeling pressured can include:

  • Worrying someone won’t like you if you don’t send it
  • Being asked over and over again
  • Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings
  • Being made to feel like you owe someone something
  • Worrying about getting hurt if you don’t
  • Being offered money or a gift

If someone keeps pressuring you to share a nude, blocking and reporting them will help keep you (and others) safe. Take a look at our App Information Sheets if you’re not sure how to do this.

What can you do if you've shared a 'nude'?

If you’ve sent a sext to someone and you’re worried about what might happen, take a deep breath, we understand things can get out of hand, even when you didn’t mean them to.

There are things you can do:

  • Ask for the message to be deleted
    Explain that you’re not comfortable with them keeping the picture and ask them to delete it. Of course, there is no proof they have done so even if they say they have.
  • Don’t reply to threats
    If someone trying to threaten or blackmail you, don’t reply and don’t send more photos. It can be scary, as they may get very nasty but it can help you to keep in control.
  • Talk to someone you trust
     Talking to someone can be really scary, especially If you’re being threatened. But it can also help you get support and stay in control. Speak to a trusted adult and let them know what has happened.
  • Report what has happened
    If you’re under 18 and you’re worried or being threatened you can contact your local Police station or make a report to CEOP. Making a report isn’t confidential but it does mean that they can help to stop what’s happening.
  • Get help with how you’re feeling
    Having a nude shared by other people or being threatened is frightening and isn’t your fault. If you’re struggling to cope or you don’t know what to do, talk to us.

 

 

 

When you've shared a nude photo, video or message with someone who didn't want it

Sharing nudes, videos or sexual messages with someone who doesn’t consent to receive them is not okay and can be against the law.

If you’ve shared a picture, video or message with someone who doesn’t want to see it,

  • Apologise straight away about what you’ve sent
  • If the person doesn’t want you to contact them – don’t!
  • Don’t ever pressure anyone to send messages or images back to you
  • Talk to a trusted adult about what you’ve done

 

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Need to talk?

If you are being bullied or are concerned about someone who is, you can receive help and support from one of our trained Mentors through our e-mentoring service.

If you would like a Mentor to email you, please contact: mentorsonline@bulliesout.com

If you would rather speak to someone over the telephone, you can call Childline on: 0800 1111

For any community-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, we would suggest contacting your landlord, the local police or your local environmental health department (where applicable), as we are unable to deal with these types of complaints.