What happens if my child has sent a ‘sext’?

Stay calm.

It’s not the end of the world.

It’s a positive that your child has come to speak to you or another trusted adult they know about it.

We know it can be embarrassing for some young people to talk about things like this but it’s important that they get help and support straight away.

  • Speak to your child and try to establish what has happened and where the image or video has gone.
  • Ask your child to speak to the receiver of the image or video and have an honest conversation. Ask them to delete the image and if it’s gone onto any social media platforms to take these down straight away.
  • Do not take any copies of the image, forward it on to anyone else or delete any images.
  • You should confiscate any devices which contain any images until you have further advice.
  • Speak to your child’s school and college as they should be able to provide advice and guidance.
  • You can also call the NSPCC and ask for advice.
  • If you feel there is immediate risk to the young person contact the police straight away.

If your child is under 18 and an indecent or nude picture of them is posted online, that's illegal. But you can get help. You or they can contact the website or social media site directly or make a report about what’s happened to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), who will speak to the website to try and remove it.

There is also lots of helpful advice and tips for young people who have been involved in incidents of sexting in this booklet ‘So you got naked online’

More information and support

  • Youth section
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre Safety tools on social networks and other online services
  • Parent info provides information and advice to parents from expert organisations on topics ranging from sex and relationships, mental health and online safety.
  • Think u know provides information for parents on a wide range of issues affecting young people. This includes a film resource for parents and carers.
  • The Internet Watch Foundation can help get sexual or naked images of children and young people removed from the internet.

Removal of sexual images


ChildLine and the Internet Watch Foundation have come together to provide a service where children can request the removal of sexual images of themselves which have been shared online. As part of that process the child would be asked to provide a link to where the image is stored online, rather than send the image itself.

The child is also required to verify their identity and age and this is done through the YOTI app. YOTI will not store images of the child’s ID following the verification process.

Below are a couple of online resources which contain details regarding this service:

  • NSPCC - There is a section which covers what you can do if you’ve lost control of a sexual image and refers to the YOTI app.
  • Childline – This is the portal where you can report images and videos for take down and again refers to using the app to verify age.

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