Sharing Intimate Images: The Facts
Someone taking an intimate / sexual image of themselves, and sending it to anyone including their friends or boy/girlfriend via a mobile phone or some other form of technology can cause lots of problems. You might call it other things like “sending a dirty” “sexting” or “nudes”
New laws brought in define intimate/sexual images as:
- photographs or films showing people engaged in a sexual activity which would not usually be done in public, or with their genitals, buttocks or breasts exposed or covered only with underwear
- doesn’t cover the sharing of other materials such as private text messages and emails which are dealt with under separate legislation
- doesn’t apply to sharing photographs of naked protests or streakers at sports matches
There can be lots of pressure to send pictures like this. Sometimes people might send them to you without asking first. There are many reasons why young people might send these images. They may feel unable to say no, worry what people will think if they don’t or be really proud of their body and want to share it. For some people sexting is a way of flirting or sharing intimate stuff with a partner.
Things to Think About Before Sending Images
- Know you don’t have to. If you’re feeling pressured talk to someone about how to deal with this. They can help you work out how to respond.
- Once you have sent something, it is no longer in your control. A person can keep it for a long time, even after you split up with them, and can use it in a way that you don’t want them to.
- A picture or video of you might end up in someone else’s hands on the internet, and even on pornographic websites
- Even if you trust the person who you are sending it too, someone else like their parent, sibling or teacher might find it and see it.
- Remember if you are using a web cam it is very easy for someone to take a picture of the screen with you on it.
- If you receive an indecent image or text from someone, do not send this image on to others. Report it to a trusted adult.
Dealing With Pressure
It can be really difficult to say no, especially when you really like the person who’s asking or you’re scared of what people will say if you don’t.
If you’re worried talk to someone. Help is available before and after sending pictures.
If Things Go Wrong
Sometimes sending pictures can go wrong. It may leave you feeling ashamed or embarrassed and you don’t know who to talk to. Maybe friends, family or people at school have found out and you’re getting a hard time.
Images can be shared without permission and could end up in places you don’t want them to, like online. It can feel like you have no control over this. But there are things you can do and there is support available if this happens. CLICK HERE to check out some useful information.
If someone has shared an image without your consent they need to know their behaviour is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you sent it in the first place, they’ve still betrayed your trust. This can sometimes happen if relationships break down.
If you know that an indecent image of you or a friend has been posted in the online environment, you will need to contact the service provider, such as Facebook, or Youtube to have it removed. You can do this by visiting their safety centres and following their reporting links.
Childline (click here) can also help you to get these images removed without anyone else getting involved.
The Law & Sending Intimate Images
It is against the law for anyone to take, have or share an explicit image of anyone aged under 18. This means taking, sending and sharing explicit images is illegal under the age of 18.
There is an exception to this offence where;
- the young person depicted in the image is at least 16
- the two parties were partners in an established relationship and;
- the young person consented to the image being taken/made/in the other’s possession and;
- any sharing was only with each other.
As such, it is not a crime for an 18 year old person to have a nude photo of his 17 year old partner which was taken with her consent, or for them to swap such images with each other. However, it would be an offence to share such an image.
If you pressure someone into taking a photo, or you share a sexual photo with someone, you’re breaking the law. If this is reported, the police have the power to decide what they do with that information. But the law is there to protect young people, not punish them.
If you’re both under 18 and in a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP it’s unlikely that the police would want to take things further. If someone has shared your images you will be helped, not judged.
There has recently been a new law passed in Scotland around sharing images without consent. CLICK HERE for more information.
REMEMBER – If you have shared something you regret, or you’re being bullied because of it, it’s never too late to get help.