Sexting and the law

Lots of teens now use technology, smart phones and social media to communicate in their relationships. Messages, chat, tweets and images are used to connect people, including those we know well and new people we meet.

If you are using social media, it is important to remember that you have be respectful online – just the same as you do in person. It is also very important that you understand the legal consequences of your online behaviours.

In England and other UK nations, there are specific laws which relate to the way we use technology and online behaviours.

What is sexting?

Sexting is defined as sending or posting sexually suggestive texts or images. Even though the age of sexual consent is 16, it is illegal to produce, store or share sexual imagery of anyone under the age of 18. The law even includes any pictures you take of yourself and taking a picture and sharing it with partner where you both consent.

The law is designed to protect and look after young people however, young people can be held criminally responsible for their actions from the age of 10.

When dealing with sexting incidents where the young people involved are under 18, the police may use Outcome 21, this is a set of guidance for police dealing with sexting incidents involving under 18s.

Pressured to post

No one should ever make you feel pressured to take nude images, view nude images or share them. If someone is pressuring you to send a sext when you don’t want to, or if they threaten to share your private images or text, they are not respecting your boundaries.

Speak to a trusted adult about this or use a service such as Childline who can help you get the image removed if this is online. For more help and advice go to:

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