It may seem like just a picture or a video, but once sent, you can’t take it back. Digital information lasts forever and you have no control over who it gets sent to and who will see it. Be careful what you send. One picture could change your life.
What is Sexting?
Sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone or another electronic device.
But I just sent it to one person! Who else can see it?
Once you send or post an image or video, you have no control over how it may be distributed or how long it will remain online. That means your friends, family, strangers—everyone could potentially view the image, including college admissions staff and potential employers.
Can I get in trouble? Is it illegal?
Any form of depiction of a minor less than 18 years that is sufficiently sexually suggestive or in which that youth is engaging in sexually explicit conduct is considered to be child sexual abuse images. This includes images or videos produced by children under the age of 18 that are of a sexual nature.
What do I do if I’ve sent something or if someone has distributed an image of me?
Delete it as soon as possible, or ask the person to whom you sent it to delete it. Have an honest conversation with them and let them know that you feel uncomfortable with the image. Always talk to a trusted adult. This may be a parent, a caregiver, a teacher, or a counselor. They can help you decide what further steps need to be taken.
- What is Sexting? What to do if it happens. (Childline)
- How to talk to children about the risks of sexting (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)
- Internet safety rules for kids (NetSmartKids)
- Online Safety Tips for Teens (BCAC)
- Online Safety Tips for Caregivers (BCAC)
The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention funded this project under subaward number ICAC-2019-0004. All points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of any State or Federal agency.