The Dangers Of Sexting
We live in a world where our phones are pretty much glued to our palms at all times and texting is essentially a second language. But what happens when texts, turn to sexts? What are the risks of getting sexy over social media? We spoke to the NSPCC who gave us their advice...
You’ve probably heard of the term sexting and if you haven’t, this is when someone sends a sexual message, photo or video to someone else online, via a text or through social media. There are many different situations and people who may ask you to share a naked image. This may be your boyfriend, girlfriend, someone you trust or you may be asked by someone online. Whatever the circumstances are and no matter whether you have shared an image or not, we want all young people to know that the NSPCC and Childline are here to support you and give you advice on what you can do.
It’s important to remember that sharing a nude photo comes with risks, and that it’s never okay for someone to pressure you into doing this. Even if someone you really like is asking for the image, sexting should always be consensual. Before you share an image of this kind, it’s also important that you consider where this image will be sent and who it will be shared with. Also, sending or receiving a nude when you’re under 18 is against the law.
Eleanor was just 14 when her boyfriend asked her to send explicit photographs. She agreed to send him three nude pictures having been lured into a false sense of security by Snapchat’s disappearing photos function.
“Boys would send messages just saying ‘send pics’. They wouldn’t even have to persuade some girls but if the girl refused, they would chat to build trust then ask again. They’d make the girls feel special by saying ‘I really like you, maybe we should be together’ to encourage them to send photos.” Eleanor said.
After the relationship ended, Eleanor’s boyfriend turned everyone against her and she was ostracised at school and her mental health deteriorated. Her hair started falling out and she was diagnosed with stress, anxiety and school-phobia.
“He’d isolated me from my friends so now I had no one. I used to spend break-times on the phone to my mum or crying in the pastoral office”.
The bullying was so bad, her parents moved her to a private school and things turned around.
“We were so happy because we thought that it was just school that was the problem. She used to sob and say she didn’t want to go to school, so to see her change at this new school was just such a relief. It was a turnaround for the whole family” Eleanor’s dad explained.
But then her ex-boyfriend shared the explicit photographs online. Eleanor spent two months desperately trying to ignore the problem and hoping it would go away while the photos were in full circulation. She eventually reported it to CEOP.
“I called Childline and they told me to look at Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) resources, so I did. I filled in a report form online thinking that they would contact me, but instead they contacted my school who contacted my parents. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to speak to my parents about it.”
CEOP contacted her parents and advised them to call the police. They reported it to the police, and arrests were made but no charges were brought. But Eleanor has had a lot of counselling and is rebuilding her life.
“I want to speak out about my experiences now because if I’d heard someone else talking about this, I might not have sent the photo. I didn’t have the resources when I needed them so I think my story can help other people.” Said Eleanor.
If someone is pressuring you to send a nude image, you don’t need to feel alone with these worries and there are things you can do to make the situation easier:
- Talk to that person and explain how you feel about this situation. If this is your girlfriend or boyfriend, remember being able to talk to your partner without feeling scared or worried is an important part of a healthy relationship
- If someone won’t stop asking you to send nude images then you can stop talking to them. Lots of social media sites have ways that you can report and block someone. If you visit the Childline website you can find more information about how to do this
- You can also download Childline’s Zipit app which can help you take control of the conversation and respond using GIFs
- Speak with a trusted adult about what is happening so they can help and support you
If you’ve already shared an image, remember there are still things you can do including:
- If you feel able to, talk to the person you sent the image to and explain you aren’t comfortable with them keeping it and ask for them to delete it
- If you are under 18 and are worried about being threatened you can report what has happened to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command. Childline can help you make this report
- Talk with a trusted adult such as a teacher or parent or call and speak with Childline about how you are feeling
- If this image has been shared online, you can visit Childline’s Report and Remove page to try and get it taken down
NSPCC and Childline wants all young people to know that they are not alone with their worries or problems. If someone is pressuring you to send a nude image or if a nude image of you has been shared online our Childline counsellors are here to support you. For more support and advice or for more information on how to get in touch with one of our counsellors visit childline.org.uk.