Sexting, Dating & Nude Images
Sexting is sending and receiving sexual content through digital platforms. Sexting can be used in relationships to explore trust and boundaries however, the flip side of this is that the content exchanged can also be used to coerce, exploit or bully the person or people who exchange this type of content. The police have said that sexting by one child to another will primarily be considered as a safeguarding issue however, this will be at the discretion of the Police. The police must, by law, record all sexting incidents on their crime system. Since 2016, the Police have the power not to take further action against the young person if it is not in the public interest
Sexting can be the exchange of …
- A message or post including sexual language.
- Nude or semi-nude photos or videos.
- Photos or videos of sexual acts.
- Live chats or screen recorded videos with someone on a digital device involving sexual acts.
- Screen-captured photos/videos from a device.
In the UK it is already illegal to publish images of under-18s with sexual content online as they are classified as child sex abuse images. Porn sites and sites on the dark web sites tend to distort the distinctions between over-18s and under-18s because as there is a market in content of younger-looking people. Children and young people should always be cautious of any sexual images they receive because obtaining and distributing pictures of children or young people is against the law.
UK Sexting Legislation
In the UK the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16. It is an offence to make, distribute, possess or show any indecent images of anyone aged under 18 regardless whether the content was created with the permission of that young person. The law protecting children is contained in Section 1 Protection of Children Act 1978.
The law states that;
- A child (under 18) sharing a sexual image with their peer (also under 18);
- A child (under 18) sharing a sexual image created by another child with a peer or an adult;
- A child (under 18) in possession of a sexual image created by a child (under 18).
“Indecent” can be categorised as;
- Naked pictures or a topless picture of a girl;
- Pictures of genitals
- Sexual pictures in underwear; and
- Sex acts including masturbation.
Online dating apps and websites are predominantly designed for adults. However, some young people can be approached via their social platforms. You can find out how to protect your child using privacy settings on their devices or social platforms here:
We do not recommend for a young person to use online dating services and using them is not a safe way to explore dating as the person at the other end of the profile may not be genuine. You can read more about the signs of grooming and cyber stalking here:
Who can you contact if your child is sexting?
If you feel like your child is in imediate danger, please dial 999 or the relevant professional body. To find out more information from the following organisations, click on the buttons below.