Real Cases of Sexting – The Impacts and Effects

Real Cases of Sexting – The Impacts and Effects

Tash Bright No Comment

So far, our Lets Talk About Sexting campaign has looked into the reasons why young people might sext, the laws around sexting and also the consequences of young people sexting. This week we will focus on real life cases of how sexting has impacted some young people’s live. The range of consequences differs widely and each case and individual is different.

It is important to understand that the law criminalising sexual imagery of young people was created to protect young people from adults and sexual abuse, not criminalise young people. None the less, where police have been notified, the incident will be listed as a ‘crime’ and the young person involved will be a ‘suspect’.


A teenage boy added to police database for 'sexting'

In some instances, sexting may have no repercussions or it may be easily resolved between two people. Unfortunately, where sexual imagery of young people is created, stored or distributed, young people could be added to the police database.

A 14-year-old boy in the north of England was added to a police intelligence database last year after sending a naked picture of himself to a female friend. The unnamed teenager was warned that if he ever applies for a job that required advanced criminal record checks, for example if he wanted to work with children, the incident could be “flagged”.

After taking a sexual image of himself, the teenager sent it to a girl he was flirting with via Snapchat. The girl who received the Snapchat message took a screenshot of the image and shared it with her friends. The picture was then brought to the attention of the school.

In this case the boy was seen as the person in the wrong. If both himself and the girl in question were over 18, it would have been the boy who was treated as the victim, as the girl had shared his image without his permission and could be charged under new revenge porn laws. It is important to know how age effects laws.

The boy said he was “embarrassed” by the incident and now spends lunchtimes in the library to avoid being teased by classmates who claim to still have the image. He said: “I shouldn’t have done it. It’s just annoying really, something that I did when I was 14 could reflect badly in future.”


Teenage girl given police caution for sending explicit selfie to boyfriend

A teenage girl received a police caution after sending sexual imagery of herself to her boyfriend. She sent the image to him from her phone and after they had an argument, he distributed the image to his friends.

The police became involved as the girl was under 18 meaning both parties were committing an offence. The girl was committing an offence because she had taken sexual imagery of herself and shared it and the boy was committing an offence as he distributed the image. He also did it with the intent of causing distress or harm.

Both received a caution but police are now warning other teenagers they could end up on the sex offenders register if they send explicit pictures of themselves via text messages or social media.


Amanda Todd blackmailed relentlessly by online predator

Worst case scenarios of sexting have led to blackmail, depression and even suicide. Amanda Todd’s name has become synonymous with sexting and cyber bullying and it is probably the most high profile case of sexting to date.

Amanda Todd was a Canadian teenager who suffered at the hands of an online predator and took her life at the age of 15. She created a video explaining her ordeal weeks before she committed suicide. After speaking with a man who had flattered her online she ‘flashed’ him but the man took a picture of her breasts. He asked her to put on another show for him, but she refused. The man then found her classmates on Facebook and sent them the photograph. To cope with the anxiety, Todd descended into drugs and alcohol and ill-advised flirtations and sex. Her classmates ostracised her. She was forced to move school but the images were sent to the new school as well. Amanda suffered from anxiety, major depression and panic attacks and attempted suicide a few times before finally succeeding.

The 38 year old Dutch man who blackmailed and harassed Amanda relentlessly is suspected of blackmailing dozens of young women from the United States into performing sex acts on their web cams. He will be extradited to Canada to face trail after his trial in the Netherlands, which will begin early next year.


Alanna regrets getting caught sexting but doesn’t regret the act itself

Alanna McArdle spoke as an adult about how she had enjoyed using webcams as a 13 year old with the boys in her school. She explained how it had helped her explore her sexuality. She had wanted to be sexual and engage in sexual activity but it was the reaction from adults, once the activity became common knowledge amongst parents and teachers, that effected her perception of herself. She says: “I had an arrangement with around five or six boys in my year at school when I was 13 years old. I would log on to MSN Messenger almost immediately after I got home from school”.

Alana’s story is interesting as it uncovers how little is known and understood about childhood sexuality and how we progress into adults and what behaviour may or may not be ordinary or acceptable.

Alanna said: “I walked into school on the first day of Year 9, I knew that everyone knew. My parents knew; the other children’s parents knew; I’m pretty sure that every teacher at my very small school knew…As a semi-beginner’s introduction to double standards, the boys involved escaped any visible punishment in school. They got some pats on the back from their peers. I, on the other hand, was a slut… The boys around me were expected to be sexual. But my own desires and enjoyment? They were unacceptable.”

Alanna’s case mirrors a common situation in which young girls often face harsher social consequences than boys for sexting. NSPCC research discovered that sexism was normalised for contexts for all relationships on and off line meaning girls consistently received consistently higher rates of bullying, scrutiny, violence and blackmail for sending pictures than boys, who were often praised and got ‘ratings’ from their peers for receiving nude pictures from girls.



17 year old boy labelled a pervert

James, a 17 year old teenager who called Childline, was labelled a pervert after he sent a sexually explicit video to his girlfriend. He said: “My friends and I talk very openly about sexting, our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we’ve sent each other. So it can seem like everyone’s doing it.”

The fact that sexting has become somewhat normal within our society can often lead young people to underestimating the risks that could occur. James said: “There are definitely risks involved. Someone saw a video message I had sent to a previous girlfriend, took a screen shot and posted it online. They called me a pervert and lots of people I knew saw it – it was clearly me pictured.”

Once an image or text has been sent, it cannot be unsent. It is easy to lose control of an image as you cannot guarantee where it will end up and who will see it. This can lead young people (and adults) to feeling a severe humiliation and a sense that things have spiralled out of their control. James said: “I was completely devastated and, to be honest, almost suicidal. I got the picture taken down eventually, but by that stage people had ‘unfriended’ me and the damage was done.”


It is always important to think before you send a text or image of the consequence that could ensue. How would you feel if your parent saw the picture, or your teachers and classmates. Think of the cases above and how it affected these young people’s lives.


Next week we will be speaking to a child exploitation expert about sexting

If you have been affected by any aspect of sexting you can get help from the organisations bellow:

Childline – 0800 11 11 or in an online chat at

If parents and carers are concerned about their child, they can contact the NSPCC – 0808 800 5000, by emailing [email protected], or by texting 88858.

They can also ring the Online Safety Helpline by ringing 0808 800 5002.

Revenge Porn Helpline – or call on 0800 6000 459

How you can help

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