When nudes get shared around

It can be fun to share photos with friends. Sometimes pics get shared so much that they end up going viral. This can be lots of fun. But if the image has a person in it, it is only ever ok if they are happy with it being shared. 

Sometimes images are shared to make fun of the person in the image, or because people share it without stopping to think about the harm it could cause. It’s never ok to share personal photos of other people - especially if they’re nudes (naked or semi-naked images). Sharing a nude image of someone under 18 is a criminal offence.

People who send nude images of themselves usually assume they will be kept private. Particularly if they sent one  to someone they trusted. But even if it was sent to someone they don’t know that well, or to a friend as a joke - it is still abusive if that person shares the images with others.  

Unfortunately, sometimes nudes do get shared around schools and amongst friendship groups, or even more widely than that. If you have sent a nude, or are thinking about sending one, read our advice article ‘Send me a pic?

How does it feel to have a nude image shared?

It can be devastating when someone’s nude image or video is shared with people who weren’t meant to see it.

Many young people who have experienced this say it was extremely distressing. It can cause serious long-term harm to confidence, self-esteem, friendships and relationships. If the person finds it hard to keep coming to school or concentrate on their studies, they might miss out on the opportunities and results they deserve.

Even if a young person who finds out their nudes have been shared seems to laugh, or shrug it off and move on, it’s probably still hurting them inside.

What can you do?

It’s easy: keep yourself and others safe by pledging to never share a nude or revealing image of someone else. And if you find out others are, there are things you can do to help. 

Read our advice on ‘What to do if a nude is being shared around’ below. 

True or False: Sending nudes

  1. You're stupid if you send a nude image - FALSE

    The truth is: The person in the picture might have been tricked, pressured or forced to send it by someone else. Don’t make any assumptions about why a nude image was first sent. Remember, that individual is the victim of a crime, as it is an offence for someone else to share their image.

  2. Showing my friends a nude image I've been sent is 'just a bit of fun' - FALSE

    The truth is: It’s wrong to share nude images of others. Every time an image is shared, it causes more harm. Anyone who shares a nude of someone under 18 is breaking the law.

  3. Adults won't understand - FALSE

    The truth is: There are plenty of adults who will be able to help if private pics are being shared. If you don’t want to talk to an adult you know, you can speak to someone at Childline or The Mix.

  4. Once the images are out there, there's nothing you can do - FALSE

    The truth is: Images can be taken down once they’ve been reported. This will help to stop them being seen by more people. If someone you know has had their images shared, you can help them by being a supportive friend. You can vow not to share nudes any further. You can help them to get support from an adult.

What to do if a nude image is being shared around


  • Never (ever) send it on to anyone else

The best thing to do is to delete it and tell an adult what has happened.

  • Tell a trusted adult

Speak to someone (such as a teacher) who you know and trust. If you or a friend would rather get advice confidentially, you can speak to a counsellor at Childline by calling 0800 1111. Don’t be afraid to get help if you have been sent something, you won’t get into trouble for wanting to make it stop.

  • Don’t make comments about the person in the image

Just because someone sent a nude image of themselves to someone else, it doesn’t mean it should be shared publicly, or that they should be judged or bullied. It’s cruel to make mean comments about people publicly.

  • Get help to remove it

If you are under 18 and worried a sexual image or video of you may have been shared online, you can use Childline and IWF’s Report Remove tool. This helps children and young people to report an image or video shared online, to see if it is possible to get it removed. Once the report has been made, you will be kept informed at each stage and provided support and feedback where necessary.

  • Get help to keep safe

If you know nude images have been shared in order to cause harm and distress to a young person,  you can report it to CEOP. CEOP will work with other professionals, which includes other police agencies, to help keep the young person safe.

  • Offer support to the young person in the image

Nudes going public can be really distressing. If you know someone going through this, offer your support. Support from others will be crucial in helping them get through a really difficult time.