Most young people do not see anything wrong with sexting but it’s illegal and has a number of consequences. It is sexual exploitation and can lead to more serious implications.

It is worrying that so many young people think it’s a normal part of a relationship. They don’t realise it is a criminal offence. 

Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board are aware that sexting is becoming a massive issue that children and young people are facing locally and is becoming an increasing area of concern. The National Crime Agency recently reported that child protection officers are investigating an average of one case involving sexting every day.

Sexting is defined as images or videos generated by children under the age of 18; of children under the age of 18 that are of a sexual nature or are indecent. It refers to sending and receiving, naked pictures or nudes, underwear shots, sexual or dirty pics, nude text messages or videos. They can be sent from a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, someone that has been met online, over text or instant messenger.

Sexting and the Law

Under British law it is legal to have sex aged 16, but it is illegal and a serious criminal offence to take, hold or share 'indecent' photos of anyone aged under 18.

It is a crime to:

  • take an indecent photograph or allow an indecent photograph to be taken
  • make an indecent photograph (this includes downloading or opening an image that has been sent via email)
  • distribute or show such an image
  • possess with the intention of distributing images
  • advertise

What could happen?

There are many cases where the Police have prosecuted, including: In July 2014 a schoolgirl was cautioned for sending a topless selfie to her boyfriend. Sexting could leave children with criminal record.

Act on it!

It is the responsibility of every family professional to understand sexting themselves, and to help young people and their parents avoid it. We have a number of resources that have been tried and tested below that can be used to help you as professionals explain the implications of sexting.

For the Whole World to see

Burton and South Derbyshire College were asked by Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board to take part in producing a short film that would raise young people’s awareness of sexting. They were asked to produce a film that would appeal to young people from year 7 to year 11, that would highlight what sexting actually was, the implications of sending indecent images to other people and that it was in fact an illegal practice.

Lucy and the boy

Be Share Aware. We tell our children it’s good to share but online it’s different. In fact sometimes it can be dangerous. That’s why we’re asking parents to be Share Aware and keep children safe online.

I saw your willy

We tell our children it’s good to share – but online it’s different. In fact sometimes it can be dangerous. 

Jay's video

Feel trapped? Jay groomed and sexually exploited his girlfriend, giving her alcohol and drugs so she'd sleep with his friends.

Resources that can help young people to avoid sexting—they can’t just unplug

Zipit is a free app, that works on Android, IOS and Blackberry, and is endorsed by NSPCC.
The app helps to give young people ‘killer comebacks’ and top tips to help them stay in control of their conversations online and avoid sending sexts.

A Thin Line is an online quick that young people can take to find out whether they are asleep at the keyboard, on top of your game, or even creating drama for others.

Online safety

Help parents to talk to their child about online safety - research shows that children want their parents to talk to them. We have created a handy guide on how to start up a conversation with young people about sexting. 

Professional guides to CSE and Sexting

New Video: Spotting the warning signs

A short infographic film for teachers and school staff in Staffordshire showing the signs that may indicate a child is the victim of Child Sexual Exploitation and how to report your concerns. 

Take part in the sexting and safer internet campaign 

Word DocumentSocial media tweets and posts for your social media channels (505 KB)