The sending of nude or sexually explicit images (sometimes known as sexting) is a challenge affecting young people. Sending nude images is not new, but the advent of digital technologies makes it easier for the images to be shared beyond the original recipient.
As a parent it’s important to speak with your children about the potential risks and implications in sharing a nude image and explaining why consent is important.
How often are young people sexting?
Research in New Zealand suggests that the rates of young people sharing nude images of themselves is relatively low (just 4% of young people aged between 14-17 surveyed had done so). What is more common is the pressure to share these images – one in five young people have been asked to send a nude image.*
Our Director of Education & Engagement speaks to Breakfast TV about the rates of young people and sexting.
What are the risks?
Once an image is sent 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 minimise the harm your child may experience is to make a plan with them ahead of time about what you’ll do if things go wrong online. This plan could cover who they would talk to and discuss ways to report and remove harmful online content and more.
How do I prevent my child from sending nudes?
Young people will often learn about the concept of a ‘digital footprint‘ at school. Anything that is shared, posted or published online becomes part of your digital record and it can be hard to get the information removed. 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.
Social media safety centres
I’ve found naked photos on my child’s phone. What should I do?
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 to talk to your child about them.
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 on 0508 NETSAFE to report the content and discuss the options available to you
This is image based abuse (sometime called revenge porn). Image based abuse 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.
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 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
Need help or advice? Contact us.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report form at netsafe.org.nz/report
Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.