You may have been tempted to send naked pictures or videos of yourself, perhaps to a friend’s mobile, on a web cam, or on social media. Some people call this sexting, cybersex or sending a nudie. This makes it sound exciting and fun. It can feel really private too.
Sexting is never private. All images can be saved or ‘screen-grabbed’ by the person receiving it, even if you think you are using a private network or a temporary message app like Snapchat.
Once a photo is shared online, you have lost all control of it and it will be virtually impossible for you undo. Even if you change your mind and delete the photo you uploaded, other people may have already shared or copied the image. This puts you at risk of abuse or exploitation by others.
There were more than 1,200 ChildLine counseling sessions that mentioned ‘sexting’ last year.
Although it may be very common, sexting can be illegal.
If you are under 18 and you take part in sexting by creating an explicit photo of yourself, you have potentially created an indecent image of a child. If you send the image to someone else, you have then distributed an indecent image of a child. If you are the one receiving the image, you are then in possession of an indecent image of a child.
This is all against the law.
Sending or sharing indecent images of anyone who is under 18, or keeping an image someone sends you, is a serious crime. You risk being arrested and going to court, even if the person sharing the image with you is happy to do so or you are happy to send nude selfies to someone else.
When things go wrong online, many young people are afraid, embarrassed or ashamed to tell someone in case they have their phones taken off them or they are wrongly judged. This only allows the abuse to continue.
The good news is that help is available. If something does go wrong online, don’t suffer in silence. It’s not your fault. You can:
When you are online on your phone, tablet, games console, or computer, always remember that there are people who will use the technology to exploit and abuse you. Make sure you are aware of the dangers, and know how to keep safe online.
Always be wary of people you don’t know who try to make friends with you on social networks, games sites or instant messaging apps. There’s no guarantee they are who they say they are and you should never tell them anything personal about yourself.
There are some really useful links below which can give you further advice and help if you are being exploited or think you know someone else that is.
If you’re worried that you’ve shared images of yourself that you shouldn’t, or you want to get an indecent image of yourself removed from the internet, you can also get help from ChildLine, who can contact the Internet Watch Foundation on your behalf.
Is someone asking you for sexual images? Download ChildLine’s free Zipit app. It gives you loads of comebacks and put-downs to use. Download Zipit