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Potential Consequences of Sexting

What does the law say?

Taking, possessing or sharing a sexually explicit picture or video of someone under 18 is against the law. It doesn’t matter if they gave you permission, someone else sent it to you, you’ve never met them before, you are under 18 too or it’s a selfie. You and anyone else involved could be investigated by the police, and this could even affect your future education and employment.
If you are over 18 and you send an image of yourself to someone who is also over 18, this is not a crime. However, you should consider the other consequences of sending and sharing images.

‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’

When you share a picture or video online or on your phone, you lose control of it. Pictures can be quickly shared over the internet. Once somebody else has it they can send it to anyone. Think how you’d feel if your nude selfie was sent to your friends, family or teachers, or if you were involved in forwarding a ‘sext’ of someone under 18 that results in a police investigation.

Feeling pressured to send pics can affect your confidence

If someone is pressuring you to send a nude pic this is wrong. It’s a form of abuse and can damage your confidence and self-worth. Click here to find out where to get help and support if you are experiencing this.

You could be blackmailed

If you send a picture you wouldn’t want other people to see, then you could be in danger of being blackmailed. The person who received it might threaten to share the photo unless you send them more. Find out how to stay safe online on the Thinkuknow website here (link opens in a new tab).

If you are gay or bi-sexual, this could include threatening to ‘out’ you, or you could experience homophobic or bi-phobic bullying, along with the humiliation of the image being shared. If you’re exploring your sexuality or gender, you can get advice from a trusted organisation like Stonewall here (link opens in a new tab).

Pressuring someone to send an image

If you’re pressuring someone to send you sexually explicit or nude pictures, this is abusive and not normal or acceptable. If they are under 18 it’s illegal to take, possess or share an indecent image.

What about forwarding on a pic someone has sent you?

Don’t share anyone else’s nude pictures. If you forward a nude or sexually explicit picture or video of someone without their consent, you’re breaking the law and taking part in abuse that could cause them serious distress.

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