What is sexting?

Sexting is the word used to describe the sharing of personal sexual content electronically. The word is a combination of ‘sex’ and ‘texting’.

Not got a lot of time? Check out our short film for parents on sexting.

Why do people sext?

Sexting is usually deliberate (i.e. people choose to do it) and is often when someone takes an intimate or sexually explicit image of themselves and sends it to another person (for example a boyfriend or girlfriend). Although it’s completely natural for young people to want to explore their own sexual identity and their relationships, sexting can be really risky and have very serious consequences.

Sexting and the law

If anyone under the age of 18 is sexting (i.e. sending indecent images of themselves), they’re also breaking the law. You can find out more about sexting and the law on the Think You Know website but in brief it’s a criminal offence to:

As a parent a good thing to remember about the law is that it is there to protect young people from harm and from being exploited and it’s not designed to punish them for making genuine mistakes.

That said, every case is different and is always dealt with based on the circumstances and facts involved.

Talk about sexting at home

Not sure about how to talk about sexting at home? We've got some ideas. Check out our talking about sexting page.

Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn is when personal explicit media is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual. This could include sharing 'sexting' images of someone in a social network, or posting images or films to websites without their permission.

The law

People who commit revenge porn in the UK can now face prison sentences under a new measure in the law that bans the distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intent to cause distress. Find out more on the Revenge Porn factsheet created by GOV.UK.

Getting help

If someone is over 18 they can contact the Revenge Porn Helpline. Anyone under 18 should contact CEOP. Find out what to do if your child is being approached online about sex.


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