Information Page


What is sexting?

There are a number of definitions of sexting but for the purpose of this advice sexting is simply defined as images or videos generated:

  • by children under the age of 18, or
  • of children under the age of 18 that are of a sexual nature or are indecent.

These images are shared between young people and/or adults via a mobile phone, handheld device or website with people they may not even know. There are many different types of sexting and it is likely that no two cases will be the same.

Handling an incident – initial response 

Sexting disclosures should follow school’s normal safeguarding practices. A child is likely to be very distressed, especially if the image has been circulated widely and if they don’t know who has shared it, seen it or where it has ended up. They will need support during the disclosure and after the event.

If the content is on a mobile device, it can be examined, confiscated and securely stored if there is reason to believe it contains indecent images or extreme pornography, inline with the Education act of 2011 (See Section 6.3.) Devices can be searched if the children gives permission and if they do not, staff must consult with the headteacher to be granted permission.

Staff should never view the image unless there is a clear reason to do so, send, share, copy or save the image anywhere. Children should not be allowed to do any of the above either. Materials should not be moved from one place to another.

Dealing with incidents

Whoever the initial disclosure is made to must act in accordance with the school’s Safeguarding Policy, ensuring that the Designated Safeguarding Leads are involved in dealing with the incident. The DSL should always record the incident using the school’s Safeguarding Concerns Form and also log the incident on CPOMS. There may be instances where the image needs to be viewed and this should be done in accordance with protocols. The best interests of the child should always come first; if viewing the image is likely to cause additional stress, professionals should make a judgement about whether or not it is appropriate to do so.

There may be a multitude of reasons why a child has engaged in sexting – it may be a romantic/sexual exploration scenario or it may be due to coercion. It won’t always be appropriate to inform the police; this will depend on the nature of the incident.