Dealing with sexting

Getting help with sexting incidents

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3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

I am concerned that an adult is contacting my child about nudes

There are online predators on any platform where there are children. If you suspect an adult is contacting your child about nudes it is critical that you investigate if this has happened and then take action so that it can't happen again.

Recommended approach:

  1. Talk to your child and seek to find out if anyone has ever asked them for nudes. If the answer is yes, reassure your child they are safe and talk to them about safety themes (including body safety), and reiterate that they should always come to you for help if they feel unsafe or unsure.
  2. Collect any evidence about who the person is and report them to the platform and to your local law enforcement service. Do not make copies of any explicit content, however.
  3. Review your child’s use of all platforms and use technology to block/restrict certain platforms, increasing online supervision and utilising privacy settings.
  4. If your child is very upset seek professional help from a child psychologist.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

My child has been sent nude images by a peer

Many global laws also consider any image or video depicting the nudity of a child to be exploitation material. This can include images or videos that a child themselves might consider funny or a joke such as snapping a friend on the toilet, mooning someone, or surprising them in the shower. At this age, this is the more likely scenario you will find yourself dealing with if there is an issue with nudes, so have discussions with them about what it means to share this type of content, and how a victim might feel about having intimate pictures of their body posted online (joke or not). It is a great opportunity to connect the dots with them when it comes to a person's digital footprint and the permanency of information once it is posted online for all to see and share.

Someone is asking my child for nudes

Co-mingled sites and games are melting pots for different types of adults and children, many of whom are unexpectedly confronted with requests like this. These incidents can be shocking, however, it is important to act quickly to protect your child, and any other children potentially receiving similar requests.

Collect any evidence about the person seeking the nude content, and report them to the platform as well as local law enforcement. Block the profile and review your child's privacy settings and filtering options in apps and games.

Discuss with your child the importance of not speaking to strangers online by using the 3 golden rules of online safety for them to assess whether someone is safe or not. This includes only speak to people whose first and last names you know, only speak to people you know in real life, and only speak to people your parents know and approve of.

Strongly consider the appropriateness of their access to platforms that allow your child to engage with others, and use parental control tools to help them stick with age-appropriate content.

I am concerned that an adult is contacting my child about nudes

Sadly, online predators exist on any platform children do, and they are endlessly on the lookout for opportunities to engage. If you suspect an adult is soliciting your child for nude images it is imperative you raise your concerns immediately with your child, and investigate whether this has occurred.

Ensure your child knows that no matter what, they can come to you for help, even if they think they’ve made a mistake by speaking to someone they shouldn’t.

Ask your child who this person is, where they know them from and what they have specifically asked them for. Document their answers, and collect any evidence you can about this person and report them to the online platform, and importantly your local law enforcement service. It is also vital to review your child's overall use of certain platforms and take steps to tighten privacy controls, block people they don't know in real life, and increase your supervision of their online activity.

Utilise parental control tools to help supervise or restrict their use of riskier platforms.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

I have found out that my child has been sharing nude images of themselves with their partner

While many parents will find this shocking, children at this age are developing the need for autonomy and intimacy in relationships, and the sharing of nude images does sometimes play a role in this. Despite this, sharing “nudes” is still considered to be a criminal offence in most countries.

It is important to determine whether the content shared between your child and their partner was done so consensually, or whether coercion, pressure, harassment or force was involved.

It is very important to uncover how long this has been happening and where any other messages have been shared.

It is important to immediately take action to delete any copies of the content that has been shared from your child's device and ask their partner to do the same.

You should also consider notifying the parents or carers of your child's partner regarding what has occurred, and, where appropriate, restricting contact with that person for a short time period to reinforce your stance on the issue. Have open, honest conversations with your child about the risks of sharing nudes and help your child find some alternatives to partaking in this type of behaviour that still allows them to create trust in their relationships, yet reiterates expectations that it doesn't happen again.

Someone is asking my child for nudes

Take action quickly by collecting evidence about the person or profile (although you should not make any copies of any explicit material), and help your child block and report the person online, as well as reporting them to local law enforcement.

If this has happened on a social media platform, website, or game, it is imperative to report the profile to the platform so they can commence an investigation to prevent this person from contacting your child again, but also to ensure they are not able to contact other young people for the same purposes.

Reiterate the rules of online interactions with your child, by using a digital device contract to outline key points and the reasons they are important. Create a positive outcome by utilising the situation as a learning opportunity for them to understand the real-world risks of online environments, and reiterate your expectations when it comes to their use.

Review their settings on social media and games, and consider the appropriateness of certain platforms by reviewing apps and games here.

I am concerned that an adult is contacting my child about nudes

If someone is contacting your child about nude images, you need to report this to the platform or game they are on straight away, as well as notifying local law enforcement. Soliciting nude images from children is a criminal offence, and should be taken seriously. It is important to ensure the profile of this person is investigated for any wrongdoing.

It is also important to review the restrictions you currently have in place regarding the apps and games your child uses. While most apps and games state that users should be 13 years or older to use them, it is still imperative that as a parent you restrict what features you feel are inappropriate for their age. Review the app or game here for an overview, and get them to review their friends and followers lists and remove anyone they don't know well. Ensure they are not utilising geolocation services and, where necessary, engage age-appropriate parental controls so you can adequately supervise your child.

3. Frequently asked questions (Results)

I have found out that my child has been sharing nude images of themselves with their partner

Teens at this age often feel a social expectation to participate in some form of sexting, however, most are not “doing it.” In reality, only a very small percentage of teens have actually sent a nude or semi-nude image of themselves, however, once shared, many are circulated around.

While sharing nude images is still considered a criminal offence in most countries (and the legal ramifications should not be understated), there have been certain amendments in some locations that create exemptions on the basis of consensual sharing between teens of this age, to reflect the changing nature of their technology use and to minimise legal ramifications. Get legal advice relevant to your state or territory regarding this.

Non-judgemental conversations with your teen are the way to go here. Engage your teen by being curious as to why they shared the images, and enquire about their thought process should things not turn out as they expected. Respectfully challenge their assumptions by using examples - What happens if your partner loses his phone and hasn’t deleted the pictures yet, even though he intended to? At this age, get them to think critically about the consequences of their actions, and to expect the unexpected.

Someone is asking my child for nudes

The sharing of nude images between young people is still widely considered a criminal offence and you should help your teen find practical and effective ways to safely say no and ask the person to stop. Praise their resistance to the request and, where necessary, block and report the person if they continue asking.

It is also useful to collect any evidence you have of this request occurring, and report the person to the platform where the request took place, as well as informing local law enforcement. Also, consider the age of the person requesting the image when compared to your teen. Similar age defences to sexting exist in many countries around the world, however, an adult cannot request, possess or distribute images of this nature from a child, no matter the relationship.

Your teen's school wellbeing team should also be able to provide guidance and support on this issue.

I am concerned that an adult is contacting my child about nudes

It is a criminal offence to groom a child or solicit nude images so you should help your teen immediately block and report the person to the platform where this has happened and inform your local law enforcement service.

Collect as much evidence as you can regarding the interaction, but also ask your teen clarifying questions about how they originally came into contact with the person in question. How did they introduce themselves? What made you start talking to them in the first place?

Answers to these questions could contain clues as to who this person is, and how and why they targeted your teen. Take the opportunity to reiterate the risks of the online world and break down how “harmless chat” can result in these types of issues, and potential malicious use of their personal information in the future.

Using everyday examples such as those seen in the media to reiterate the importance of online safety helps a lot, and be sure to stay curious about their thoughts on the topic too. Praise them for seeking help and let them know you are always there to support them using the digital world healthily and safely.