Sexting involves the sending of sexually explicit messages, images and videos. It has become commonplace amongst young people and adults.

Netsafe does receive reports where people have shared intimate images or videos with one person who has then shared them with others without consent. Often these instances have occurred when a relationship has broken down and one partner chooses to publish photos that were previously shared privately.

FAQs

Is sexting a bad idea?

Once you sext you lose control of the content. 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, 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 you’re aware that there are risks involved with sharing intimate images or videos.

What can I do if I’ve sent a sext? 

If you have sent an explicit image or video to someone and now regret it, you should contact that person and ask them to delete it.

What can I do if I’ve shared a sext message on social media?

If the sexual content was shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram, then you should report it to the site as nudity is not allowed and they should remove the images.

What can I do if my image has been shared at school?

If an intimate image has been shared within school, the school can provide support and investigate if other students are involved. If the images show a child under the age of 17, these can be classed as an objectionable image and someone distributing it may be investigated by New Zealand Police. If you’re not sure what to do, you can contact us for help and advice.

What can I do if I’ve sent someone a nude photo or video and now they’ve shared it with someone else, or are threatening to?

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. Find out more about revenge porn.

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

As a parent, you may be shocked to find this content on your child’s device. You can read our  “So You Got Naked Online” guide for practical steps. It’s important not to overreact whatever your internal reaction may be – young people sometimes don’t think about long term consequences, they are living in the moment.

How can I prevent my child from sexting? 

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 is essential.

Need help with something to do with sexting?

If you need help or advice with anything to do with sexting you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and confidential.

CONTACT NETSAFE

Need help or advice? Contact us.

  • Email queries@netsafe.org.nz
  • 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.

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