Sexting, sharing nude or other photos of a sexual nature online is a common issue for young people. A combination of curiosity and naivety can make young people act in a way that can have serious repercussions.
With this in mind, it is important that your child knows the risks and possible consequences of sharing “naughty” pictures. If your son or daughter gets caught up in sexting or similar, they will need to know they can approach you for support.
So what are the risks? And what does the law say? Furthermore, how can you support your children? Good questions! You will find some answers below.
The risks of sexting
An image or video clip can very easily fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly worrying if sexually graphic photos or movies are shared. It can happen by sharing with just one person you think you can trust.
Such an image or video might end up:
- Online for everyone to see
- Being used to coerce or blackmail the person in the picture
- As a tool to bully or humiliate the person in the image
- In the hands of paedophiles
- Searched for or viewed by potential employers and other influential people
It is against the law to have or share naked or sexual images of anyone under the age of 18, even if it is a selfie.
Therefore you could get a criminal record if you have made, received or shared sexually graphic pictures or videos of young people. Your name could be added to the Sex Offenders Register. This could have a bad effect on relationships, prospects, career options and life choices.
What can be done if you are faced with this situation? Childline have lots of useful info for parents and their children. Online counselling is available if you and your children are finding it embarrassing to discuss. Childline also have a fantastic free app called Zipit.
The Zipit app
Zipit includes helpful tips, clever replies and silly pics to send if you are being pressurised into sexting. Also there is Think U Know, a website for children, young people and anyone concerned with their safety. It has some fantastic advice, often in video form about protecting your children online and image sharing. Finally, Meic, the information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people in Wales, recently published an article in response to a young person asking about sexting.
Reporting a crime
Contact the police if, for instance, you are worried about inappropriate images of your child being shared or requested. Call 101 to make a police report. You can also report it here, via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Lastly, you should call 999 if your child is in immediate danger.
If there are any other problems your family is having, then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.