Sexting & Sending Nudes - Advice for Parents & Carers

April 5th 2022

What is Sexting?

Sexting is the sending of indecent images either as pictures or videos of yourself or others. This can also include sending sexually explicit messages. This can happen on any electronic device that is able to share media and messages and can be sent through messaging services and different social media websites and apps.

What does the law say?

In the UK the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16. However, it is an offence to make, distribute, possess or show any indecent images of anyone aged under 18, even if the content was created with the consent of that young person. The law is contained in section 1 Protection of Children Act 1978.

Examples include:

  • 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” means, for example:

  • naked pictures;
  • topless pictures of a girl;
  • pictures of genitals;
  • sex acts including masturbation; and
  • sexual pictures in underwear.

The police have said that sexting by children will primarily be considered as a safeguarding issue. The police must, by law, record all sexting incidents on their crime system but as of January 2016, they can decide not to take further action against the young person if it is not in the public interest. This will be at the discretion of the police.

What should you do if you find your child has been involved in sexting?

If you find out that your child has been sexting, you can contact the Internet Watch Foundation, who can search for explicit images or videos of your child and remove them.

It would also be advisable to have an honest conversation with your child about the incident, to find out what led to it and how can it be avoided in the future.

Some of the reasons for sexting are:

  • peer pressure;
  • feeling pressured to sext as a way of proving their sexuality;
  • as a result of harassment, threats or blackmail;
  • seeking someone’s approval;
  • long distance/ online relationships, where there is a desire to have a sexual relationship;
  • confidence in their looks, which they want to share with other people.

At Clarendon, we are also able to give you support and advice, so please get in touch.

Tips for Parents

  • Discuss with your child the consequences of sexting.
  • Monitor your child’s online presence, especially social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter; downloaded images and images taken on their smart devices.
  • Explain that the images can land in the wrong hands, and warn them against online predators.
  • Encourage your child to open up about receiving or sending provocative images without your supervision.
  • Remind you child that there are essential and personal information that they should never share online such as address, photos and video footage.
  • Set clear rules about what the can and cannot do with their electronic devices.