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Sexting And The Law
A news article gained much press attention recently after a sexting scandal concerning a minor was highlighted.
A 15-year-old boy was caught sexting girls at his school and despite not receiving a conviction or caution, the allegations will remain on his police file for 100 years after the High Court refused his request to have the incident deleted.
This ultimately creates repercussions for his future as any Enhanced DBS disclosure that he undertakes would potentially highlight the incident to future employers.
This case could affect many more children who have been accused of ‘sexting’ and has raised the issue of sexting laws in the UK and what constitutes right from wrong in specific situations.
What is sexting?
Sexting is the amalgamation of the words ‘sex’ and ‘text’ and occurs when someone sends an explicit message to another person in the form of words, video content or a photograph.
The content could be of themselves or another person and they would be shared with or without consent.
Young people today feel a social pressure to send such messages whether it be someone they are in a relationship with or someone who could be a potential boyfriend or girlfriend.
The legal age for sexual consent in the UK is 16. The Protection of Children Act 1978 states that it is an immediate offence to obtain, possess or share indecent images of anyone under the age of 18 even if the images were received with the consent of the young person involved.
The law aims to protect anyone under the age of 18 even if it was the minor who was sending the indecent images.
However, illegal actions carried out by a person under 18 include taking explicit videos or photos of themselves or another person. If the child possesses, shares or downloads these graphic images even with children the same age as themselves, it will still be considered unlawful.
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Sexting between an adult and a child
If sexting occurs between an adult and a minor under 18, the laws are considerably more serious and the adult is automatically deemed as breaking the law.
Sexting between adults
Sexting that occurs consensually between two adults is not considered to be a sexual offence and neither of the parties concerned are breaking any laws.
However, if a person is sent sexually explicit material and they are not wanted, the sender could potentially be subject to harassment charges.
A recent phenomenon that is occurring more frequently is revenge porn.
This is the distribution or sharing of private and personal images or video content of an individual without their consent and with the intention to humiliate. Many celebrities and public figures have been subject to this type of scandal in the press where an ex-partner has shared such footage. However, it can happen to anybody.
This act of malice was made a specific offence in 2015 by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.
The Act specifies that if you are accused of revenge porn and then found guilty, the defendant could face up to two years imprisonment.
In 2016 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) revealed that there had been 206 revenge porn cases. This type of crime is estimated to increase due to the popularity in social media as it is the perfect platform to share images and video content.
The law concerning revenge porn covers media that is publicised both online and offline and includes:
- Sharing indecent images on social media such as Facebook or Instagram;
- Messages shared via text message or WhatsApp;
- Images or video content shared via email or published on a website;
- Distribution of hard copies such as photocopies or posters.
If you would like to discuss this subject in more detail, please contact the team at Care Check on 0333 777 8575 and we will be happy to help.