WHAT CAN I DO IF SOMEONE IS PRESSURING ME TO SEND PHOTOS?
‘Sexting’ is when people send and receive sexually explicit photos, videos or messages online and on mobile phones.
TOP TIPS FOR DEALING WITH THE ISSUE
Sometimes people engage in sexting to show off, show interest in someone, prove commitment or just as a joke.
But sexting can have extremely serious consequences for everyone involved - the person in the picture, the sender and the person who receives the picture. If somebody is sharing an image like this, don’t pass it on – it’s illegal and could also be seen as bullying.
If you’re thinking about sexting, or have sexted and it’s gone further than you wanted, here are our top tips:
Thinking about sexting?
- Sexting is illegal - If you're under 18, both sending and receiving sexts is illegal
- Lack of control - Once a message has been sent on the internet, you have limited control over it and it's easy for people to share it with others
- Don't be pressured - If you feel like someone is trying to get you to send them a naked picture of yourself, you could use the friendly images on ChildLine’s Zipit app to keep the situation in control. Or you could ignore them and hope they get the hint
- Think about it - If you are going to share an intimate message make sure you think really carefully about what you're sending and who you're sharing it with.
Something's gone wrong
· Take a deep breath - it can be overwhelming so look away from the screen and take ten seconds to yourself
· Act quickly - ask the person who was shared it to take it down – sometimes people don’t realise the negative effect they’re having, asking them to take down whatever it is, can be effective
· Report it - You can report it to the website the material has been uploaded, if it is a social media site they will take it down. If the image is of someone under 18 you should also report it to the Internet Watch Foundation who will take action to minimise the availability and spread of the content
· If you need support, tell someone - This is a question of judgement, but if you’re struggling let someone know what is going on, it can be a parent/guardian, friend, teacher or a charity. Preferably it will be an adult you trust, a good place to start is the safeguarding teacher at your school who will have training in supporting you with this
· Involve the police - After talking with an adult you might decide you want to involve the police, you can do this in the UK by calling 101 and in Ireland by visiting your local gardai station.
We all make mistakes and your future will not be decided by this one problem. The storm will pass and you’ll be all the stronger for it and learn from this.
- You can talk to Childline on 0800 1111 or visit the sexting page on their website help and advice
- Have you been sent naked pictures? Or has someone made contact with you that you’re uncomfortable with? In the UK, you can contact the Internet Watch Foundation or the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre to report it
HOW CAN I SUPPORT STUDENTS WHO MAYBE BEING PRESSURED TO SEND NAKED PHOTOS?
Students are often unaware that sending, receiving or sharing naked images of anyone under the age of 18 is illegal. So even having photos of their boyfriend or girlfriend on their phone – if they are under the age of 18 – would be breaking the law under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
It can be a difficult topic to discuss with students, but it’s crucial to understand what sexting is and discuss it with them just as you would other internet safety issues.
Make sure you create a safe space where students are able to discuss sexting honestly, and gain the information they need to make informed choices. We have created a module on Peer Pressure Online and Digital Footprint as part of our Be Strong Online project, a programme of free peer-to-peer training resources. You may find the activities included in these modules a helpful way to open up a discussion amongst students about the pressure that can lead to sexting.
There is also a student and parent information sheet which includes advice on sexting available to download via the Peer Pressure Online page.
If a student tells you that they have had some intimate photos of themselves shared further than they wanted then it is really important to follow your school's safeguarding procedure and notify the safeguarding lead.
Explain the student that you will do as much as you can, they are likely to be very worried about what has happened and it's important that you are non-judgemental in your communication with them to avoid making the situation worse.
If you need support personally or are unsure about anything you can contact the UK Safer Internet Centre's Professional Online Support Helpline between 10am-4pm Monday to Friday 0844 381 4772 or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW CAN I SUPPORT a CHILD WHO MAY BE PRESSURED TO SEND NAKED PHOTOS?
Some young people send and receive sexually suggestive photos, naked or near-naked, online and via mobile. Research indicates that the reasons people tend to engage in sexting are to show off, show interest in someone, prove commitment or just as a joke. But sexting can have extremely serious consequences – for the sender, recipient and subject of the image:
- Images can easily be manipulated, copied, posted online or sent to others within seconds
- If the image is shared outside of a private conversation it can be used to cyberbully or humiliate
- If posted online the image form part of a young person’s digital footprint – it could remain there forever and be seen by anyone
- If someone takes, holds or shares indecent images of anyone under the age of 18, they are breaking the law under the Sexual Offences Act 2003
Although it can be a difficult topic to discuss and young people may feel uncomfortable turning to a parent for advice, it’s crucial to understand what sexting is and to discuss it with your child just as you would any internet safety issue. Here are some actions you can take:
- Talk to your child about sexting now, rather than waiting until something happens. It’s especially important if they are an older teen who is in a relationship or considering starting one
- Discuss sexting as part of a wider conversation about relationships. Let them know that you understand they want to explore their sexual identity but make it clear they shouldn’t be pressured into doing anything they don’t want to do
- Explain that it’s illegal to take, hold or share indecent images of anyone under the age of 18 under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. They should avoid passing these kind of images on if they receive them, as they are breaking the law
- If you’re concerned that sexting is taking place at your child’s school, speak to their teacher. They might be able to take action as part of sex education classes or in line with the school’s anti-bullying policy
- If you’re concerned that someone has sent your child indecent pictures or videos or that a stranger has made inappropriate contact online, report it to your internet or mobile provider and to the relevant authorities – that’s the Internet Watch Foundation and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in the UK
- If your child is concerned or upset about something to do with their sexuality or a relationship, you could suggest they speak in confidence to Childline in the UK or Ireland
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