Selfies: the naked truth

Sharing a picture of yourself takes seconds. You can even add a cute filter and before a minute has passed, loads of people who you may or may not know have viewed your selfie. The social media platforms made just for sharing photos are getting bigger and bigger – Instagram has over 1 billion active users and there are 20,000 images shared on Snapchat every second!

Lots of people share photos of themselves regularly - like holiday snaps, silly selfies, or group shots with friends. Some people might think that sharing more revealing photos, like naked or semi naked (nude) pics happens all the time too. But that’s actually not the case - research shows it’s not something that most young people do.

Although not everyone’s doing it, you might be thinking about sending a naked selfie – either to your boyfriend/girlfriend, or perhaps as a way to flirt with someone you like, or to make your friends laugh, or because you feel pressured to send one. Whatever the reason, there are always risks involved, particularly if you’re not doing it because you want to. There’s always a chance that an image could be shared further, which makes it really important to say no if you don’t feel comfortable.

If you have already shared something you’re worried about, it’s never too late to get help. Check out our advice on what to do if you've already sent a nude image below.

Saying ‘no’

Saying ‘no’ is not always easy, especially if it’s to someone you really care about. There are a few different ways that you can say ‘no’, choose whichever way you’re most comfortable with.  Here are some suggestions for what you could say in different situations:

  • Someone you’re in a relationship with:  Let them know you’re not comfortable, if they respect and value you, they’ll understand.

  • Someone you know: Keep it light – Zipit app has helped lots of young people to say no in a funny way.

  • Someone you don’t know: Ignore, block and report, so they can’t continue to contact you.    

Sending Nudes

Childline chat with YouTuber Molly (aka Beauty Spectrum) about how to handle the pressure of being asked to send nudes, and what to do if you receive one.

Has someone asked you for a nude?

A few things to consider:

  • There are other ways to show you care

    There are other, less permanent ways, of showing your boyfriend or girlfriend that you care. Do you feel under pressure to send one? If someone says you need to do it to prove your commitment, they’re wrong. Ask – am I doing this for me, or for them? Your body is yours, and you choose what you do with it. It’s never ok and is always abusive for someone to put you under pressure to send a nude image. 

  • It could be shared with people you wouldn’t want to see it

    Even if you really trust them, it would only take a moment for them to share it tonight, tomorrow or next year… in that moment they could be in a silly mood, drunk or angry. They could just hit ‘send’ by accident, or others may unintentionally see it on devices.

  • You could be blackmailed

    Someone might tell you that they will share the image with others if you don’t do something they want – like sharing more images or videos. Often, they don’t share the images, even when they’ve threatened to. If this is something that’s happened to you, don’t panic and report it to CEOP.  

  • You should never feel like you have to

    No one should ever make you feel that you owe them a nude picture. Even if you’re comfortable with sexual chat, or you’ve posed in sexy pictures – it doesn’t mean that you should feel comfortable getting naked, or that you’ve ‘led someone on’. Never do anything that you’re uncomfortable with.   

What if I've already sent a nude image?

Don't panic!

  1. Ask them to delete it

    Often, the person you sent the image to won’t want to share it any further, but even the thought of someone having your nude image might make you feel uncomfortable. Have an honest conversation with them and ask them to delete it.

  2. Report the image

    If the picture has been posted online,  and whoever posted it won’t delete the image – the social networking site should take it down straight away. Social networks don’t allow naked images of those under 18. Read all about how to report here.

  3. Speak to a trusted adult

    You might feel worried or embarrassed about a picture you’ve sent. Talking to someone about what’s happened might make you feel better. Perhaps there’s an adult that you know and trust (like a teacher) that you could talk to. Or you could speak to a counsellor at Childline confidentially by calling 0800 1111.

  4. Speak to CEOP

    If you shared a naked pic or video and someone is threatening you or you shared it because someone pressured or forced you, it is never too late to get help, report to CEOP. Do not feel embarrassed, CEOP deal with lots of cases like this every day, they will not judge you or blame you in any way. 

  5. Remember - the law is there to protect young people

    Naked images of under 18s are illegal, but the police will judge cases with a common sense attitude. You will not be in trouble with the police if someone has made you share an image of yourself.  The law was created to protect young people and the police don’t want to make young people criminals unnecessarily.

Organisations who can help

Speak to Childline

If you don't want to talk to someone you know you can call Childline, the free helpline for young people. You can contact Childline about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Whatever your worry, it's better out than in.

Childline is a private and confidential service. Confidential means not telling anyone else what you’ve said. This means that whatever you say stays between you and Childline.

They would only need to tell someone else if:

  • You ask them to

  • They believe your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger

  • You are being hurt by someone in a position of trust who has access to other children like a teacher or police officer

  • You tell them that you are seriously harming another young person

Call them on 0800 1111. The number won’t appear on your phone bill.

You can also visit www.childline.org.uk to speak to a counsellor online.

Social networks

If an image has been shared on social networks or other sites you can report the image to sites where it's been shared. Find out how to report on some popular sites.

If the site doesn't have any way to report the image you can call Childline and they will report it to the Internet Watch Foundation who can get the image taken down.

Are you being threatened?

If you shared a naked pic or video and someone is threatening you or you shared it because someone pressured or forced you, it is never too late to get help. Don't give in to threats or send any more pictures. Walk away and tell an adult you trust or report to CEOP. If you think you are in immediate danger call 999.

CEOP

CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that someone they’ve met is trying to abuse them.

If you’ve met someone online, or face to face, and they are putting you under pressure to have sex or making you feel uncomfortable you should report to CEOP.

This might be someone:

  • Making you have sex when you donʼt want to

  • Chatting about sex online

  • Asking you to meet up face to face if youʼve only met them online

  • Asking you to do sexual things on camera

  • Asking for sexual pictures of you

  • Making you feel worried, anxious or unsafe

If this is happening to you, or you’re worried that it might be, report to CEOP.