Advice for young people

I have received a sext - what should I do?

Phone illustration

Sometimes people receive inappropriate messages whether they have asked for them or not. How you react is important, and can have a huge impact on both you and the sender. If you find yourself in possession of sexual material, think carefully about your next move.

Consider the following guidelines.

Don't show anyone: Try to appreciate the amount of trust that person has put in you. Don't be unkind by showing anyone - imagine how you would feel if they did the same.

Don't forward it: Even if you have a fight or a bad break up, sharing a sext out of anger or revenge can have long term serious consequences, and not just for the person pictured. You could be suspended from school, or even be in trouble with the police. You may not realise, but spreading sexual images of a person under the age of 18 is classified as circulating indecent images of children, even if the person in possession of the image is also a child.

Delete it: If you receive a sext, don't hold onto it. The longer you keep is saved on your phone or computer, the more likely that somebody else will see it.

Don't pressurise: Forcing someone to send a sexual image is emotional and sexual  bullying.

Don't feel obliged to respond: Just because you have been sent a sext, it doesn't mean you have to send one back. If you didn't ask for the image, delete it, ignore it or ask them to stop.

Report it: If you are under the age of 18 and have been sent sexts from someone a lot older than you, or someone has been pressurising you to send a sext to them, talk to a trusted adult straight away. You can also report them on the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre website.

Prevent it: If you are being sent sexts against your will, block the contact from your phone or online accounts.

Related advice

The consequences of sexting
Coming across pornography
Cyber safe settings

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