Sexting is when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others, or sends sexually explicit messages.
They can be sent using mobiles, tablets, smartphones, laptops – any device that allows you to share media and messages. Sexting may also be called:
• Trading nudes
• Pic for pic
Sexting and the Law
Creating or sharing an image of a child is illegal even if the person doing it is a child.
A young person is breaking the law if they:
• Share an explicit image or video of a child, even if it’s shared between children of the same age;
• Take an explicit photo of themselves or a friend;
• Possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child, even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.
What you need to know
Most young people today spend a lot of time online world and are comfortable with sharing their entire lives online. Young people can see sexting and risk-free and harmless but there all different types of risks which can be associated with sexting.
Why do young people Sext?
• To boost their self-esteem
• Joining in because they think that ‘everyone is doing it’
• Flirting with others and testing their sexual identity
• To get attention and connect with new people on social media
• Exploring their sexual feelings
• They may find it difficult to say no if somebody asks them for an explicit image, especially if the person asking is persistent
• It could be that two young people who are in a relationship want to prove their love or commitment to each other
Risks of Sexting
• When images or videos are stored or shared online they become public even if they are deleted
• A young person can share a video or image privately but it can still end up being shared between adults they don’t know
• Blackmail – an offender may threaten to share the pictures with the child’s family and friends unless the child sends money or more images
• Bullying – if images are shared with their peers or in school, the child may be bullied
• Unwanted attention – images posted online can attract the attention of sex offenders, who know how to search for, collect and modify images
• Emotional distress – children can feel embarrassed and humiliated. If they’re very distressed this could lead to suicide or self-harm.
Advice to Parents and Carers
• Talk to your child about the risks of sexting
• Explain the dangers and legal issues of sexting
• Talk about whether a person who asks for an image from your child might also be asking other people for images
• Ask them if they’d want something private shown to the world. Talk about the Granny rule – would you want your Granny to see the image you’re sharing?
• Discuss healthy relationships with your child – no-one should feel pressured into doing anything – especially sexual things. Healthy relationships are about mutual respect.
• Talk to your child about positive decisions – acknowledge that as a parent you were a teenager therefore you understand the pressures of being a teenager. Reassure your child that they can talk to you about any pressures they are facing.
• Educate and talk to your child about responsibility – make sure your child understands that they are responsible for their actions. If they receive an explicit image they must delete it immediately. If they do send the image on and the person is under the age of 18, they are distributing child pornography- and they could be in trouble with the police.
• Most importantly let them know that you will be there for them you will not be angry you are there to support them, keep them safe and make sure they are happy.
Family Safety Plan
All families can create a family safety plan- ‘how can we make sure everyone is safe’ and ‘what can we do in case things go wrong’. Family safety plans can also help young people and their parents to work together on making joint decisions and on communication.
• Talk about warning signs
• Open the lines of communication
• Set clear family boundaries
• Seek help and advice
• Goal setting
At Langdon Park School we believe that parent and child relationship is paramount to the safety of our students. Communication is the key and if you have any concerns about the safety of your child you should talk to someone about this. Important and useful information can be found by contacting following organisations to provide support to parents, carers and children.