Sexting, or sending a sexual text, image or video is risky and can be dangerous. Once a message is sent, you have no control over what happens to it. It can be shared with other people, passed around groups or even uploaded onto the public internet. This can happen even if:
- You have only shared an image with someone you trust
- You have set the image to private, or to delete after a certain time
Because so many young people are worried about sexting, we did a project in Oxfordshire. It aimed to find out how young people felt about sexting, and what advice young people would give each other.
Instant Expert: Childline's advice page about Sexting has information on how to resist pressure to send a picture, what the law says, and what to do if a picture has been sent.
Don’t let someone guilt or pressure you into sending a nude.
Sending a sexual text, image or video is risky. Once it is sent you don’t have control over it. The picture can be copied, sent on and stored on people's phones and computers. It can even be posted on social networking sites, Youtube or other places on the internet.
When you’re under 18 it is against the law for anyone to take or have a sexual photo of you – even if it’s a selfie. It is illegal to take a sexual photograph of yourself, or of anyone else, if you or they are under 18. This means that if you pressure someone into taking a photo or you share a sexual photo with someone, you’re breaking the law.
The police have the power to decide whether it’s best just to record what’s happened or to take things further. The law is there to protect young people, not punish them. But if the police or anyone else think else there is cause for concern they can take it further. For example, if someone has been coerced (persuaded, pestered or bullied) to take or send photographs or if there has been bullying or abuse, then there can be serious consequences.
Take action: If a naked picture of you has been shared or posted online, you can tell an adult you trust (like a parent, carer, school nurse or someone else at school or college), speak to Childline, or contact the website directly.
Oxfordshire Sexting project
The Oxfordshire Sexting Project spoke to 99 young people at 10 schools. We asked young people what they thought about sending nudes, the risks and whether it was worth it – nobody recommended it! You can find out more about what they said in our report for young people below.