The sending of nude or sexually explicit images (sometimes known as sexting) is a big issue affecting young people. Whilst sending nude images is not something new, with new digital technologies it’s much easier for these images to be shared beyond the original recipient.

As a parent it’s important to speak with your children about the potential risks in sharing a nude image. Similarly, it’s also important to discuss issues of consent and the implications of sharing a nude image of someone else as this can be considered an offence.

How common is it?

Research in New Zealand suggests that the rates of young people sharing nude images of themselves are relatively low (just 4% of young people aged between 14-17 surveyed had done so). What is more common however is pressure to share these images, with 1 in 5 young people having been asked to send a nude image.*

What are the risks?

Once you send an image to someone else it’s more difficult to control what might happen to it. Sharing naked or semi naked content, even in a trusted relationship, can cause issues. The images or videos could be widely reposted or shared as a “joke”, as a relationship ends or as friends become angry with each other. There are also situations where people blackmail others into sending more intimate images, by threatening to release the original image/video online if they don’t send more. It’s important that your child is aware that there are risks involved with sharing intimate images or videos.

A good way to help minimise the risk harm to your child if they do send a nude image and something goes wrong is to make a plan with your child ahead of time. This plan could cover who they would talk to if something goes wrong, discussing ways to report and remove harmful online content and more. Visit our Make a Plan page for step-by-step advice.

How do I prevent my child from sending nudes?

Young people will often learn about the concept of a ‘digital footprint’ at primary school – what you share, post or publish online becomes part of your digital record as it can be very hard to get information removed from online platforms and to clean up your personal profile. Talk to your kids about the risks of sharing personal information and sexual images and what can happen to those photos or videos once created and shared. Teach them how to use privacy settings to lock down social media accounts, restricting who can view your profile online and being cautious about sharing images.

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I’ve found naked photos on my child’s phone. What should I do?

As a parent, you may be shocked to find this content on your child’s device, however it’s important to try and keep your emotions from clouding your judgement whatever your initial internal reaction may be. The best way to respond is to use the discovery as a starting point for having a conversation with your child about sharing nude images. For more information on sharing nude images you can read our  “So You Got Naked Online” guide.

My child sent a nude image to someone and they have shared it with others, or are threatening to do so. What should I do?

If content has been shared on an online platform you should:

  • Get your child to screenshot the content if possible
  • Immediately report the content to the platform that it’s on (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.)
  • Report the profile/account of the person who shared the content to the platform (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc.)
  • Contact Netsafe to report the content and discuss the options available to you – call toll-free on 0508 NETSAFE

This is often called “revenge porn” or the non consensual sharing of intimate images. Revenge porn is a form of online sexual harassment and can be an offence under the Harmful Digital Communication Act in New Zealand, as well as a potential offence under a number of other Acts. You should contact Netsafe for help if this has happened to your child.

Find out more about revenge porn.

My child has shared an image of someone else. What should I do?

If you become aware that your child has shared a nude image of someone else you should contact Netsafe as soon as possible for advice on what to do next.

Sharing nude images without consent is a serious issue and can be a crime in New Zealand. There may be different rules and laws that apply depending on the age of the person whose image has been shared and the age of the person who shared the image.

Some important facts that are worth trying to find out prior to calling Netsafe may include:

  • How many people was the image sent to?
  • To you or your child’s knowledge, has the image spread further than who they originally sent it to?
  • Where did the image come from? How did you child obtain the image?
  • Who is the person in the image?

We can review the situation with you and give you advice on the steps you should take. Each situation is different and our team is on hand to provide information and support.

*’Teens and Sexting in New Zealand: Prevalence and attitudes’, 2017