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Law on explicit images

Hey Sam, I'm Annabelle.

I've been worried for ages about the law against sending explicit images because boys around my age always ask to send and when i tell them it's illegal they say it's not and most girls at my school have done it at some point.

Will I get into trouble with the police if i send to someone my age and how would i report it if someone got hold of my images via screenshot?

Your knowledge would be greatly appreciated; I'm 15 by the way.

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Sam

Hi there,

It's illegal for someone to have sexual images of anyone under the age of 18. Sexual images might include if someone's naked, in their underwear, or pictures of them doing sexual acts - including masturbating. It's also illegal to share and send naked pictures or videos with other people. The important thing to remember is that this does include pictures of yourself - so you can be breaking the law by sending nudes if you're under 18 and the person receiving them is also doing something illegal by saving them.

It's normal to want to explore your sexuality in different ways and this might include taking pictures of yourself. It's not okay for someone to pressure you into doing anything sexual before you're ready, including taking naked photos. If someone's asking you for nudes or other sexual pictures then you have the power to say no. Saying no should be enough but if someone is still pressuring you to send pictures that you don't want to take, that's wrong and they shouldn't be doing that.

The law is there to protect you, not to try and catch you out and get you into trouble. It' s unlikely that the police would want to do anything about two young people who're doing sexual things in a safe, consenting way. That doesn't mean that you'd never get in trouble for this though as there can be some grey areas. If you were to take nudes of yourself and send them to many different people, the police might look at this differently.

There are also other dangers of sending nudes and sexting. Once you send a picture to someone it's very difficult to stop that person sharing it again with someone else. Copies of images are very easy to spread and although you might trust the person you send it to now, it's important to think about how that relationship might change in the future. There's also the risk that they might not intentionally share it but if they lose their phone or have their accounts hacked, other people might get access to pictures you didn't mean for anyone else to see.

In the end you need to make a choice about what you want to do. You have a right to explore your sexuality at your own pace and in a safe way - whatever you do needs to be for your benefit, not someone else's. Think carefully about the risks before you make that choice and ask yourself how comfortable you feel with it.

If you'd like to talk more about this, Childline counsellors are always here for you.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,

Sam

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