Sexting is the sharing of indecent images, videos or other sexual content.

Sexting can cover a broad range of activities. It can range from the consensual sharing of an image between two children of a similar age to instances of children being exploited, groomed, and bullied into sharing images, which in turn may be shared with peers or adults without their consent.

What can I do to make my child aware of the risks of sexting?

The best way to make your child aware of the risks of sexting is by having an open and honest conversation about it. We know it can be embarrassing for some young people to talk to any adult about issues such as this but it’s really important we have these conversations to help protect young people and aid them in making good choices.

The Emoji Dictionary

Emojis are becoming an increasingly common method of communication for everybody. Emojis are simple to understand, quick to type and can get the tone of the message across. 

The Children's Society have put together a simple guide to how emojis may be used in areas of risk. This is not a definitive guide and is not exhaustive. We encourage all practitioners to stay curious about the different forms of communication young people are using, and to use this as a resource to build conversation.

The Slang Dictionary 

This slang dictionary seeks to support parents, carers and professionals to better understand the language young people may be using and support them to safeguard young people. Read the full document

It is important to recognise that if a young person uses this language, it does not necessarily mean they are being exploited. This resource aims to support parents, carers and professionals to start conversations with young people and raise awareness around this language.

Do you know the law?

If you are under 18, it is against the law to:

  • take, have or distribute a sexual photo; this includes a selfie
  • have or pass on indecent images of someone under 18
  • encourage or incite someone to take or send ‘sexts’
  • take a photo of their own genitals whether the image is shared on or not

As well as the legal consequences, there are other issues to ‘sexting’ including emotional and reputational.

If you are under 18, think before you take an explicit photo or share it

Once taken and sent, you have no control over what happens to the image and it could be sent to anyone and posted anywhere on the internet. Once you press send, it is no longer in your control.

Guidance and support

NSPCC - the risks and how to support your child

NSPCC helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000