When nudes get shared around

You’ve probably heard about people sending ‘nudes’, ‘pics’ or ‘n4n’ (nudes for nudes). These are naked or partly-naked photos or videos. Young people might send nude images to: 

  • A boyfriend/girlfriend
  • A best friend (as a joke)
  • Someone they like or think is good looking

If you have sent a nude, or are thinking about sending one, read our advice article Selfies: The Naked Truth 

Whoever the picture was originally sent to, the sender probably assumed that it would be kept private. Particularly if it was sent to someone they really like and trust. Even if it was sent to someone they don’t know that well - it can still be hard to believe that someone would share such a personal image.

But unfortunately, sometimes nudes get shared around schools and amongst friendship groups online, or even more widely than that.

Why does this happen?

Sometimes, someone might feel so shocked by a pic that they share it with more people without stopping to think about the harm that could cause – both to the person in the pic and to others who see it.

Other times, someone might share someone else’s nude pic because they think it’s funny, or just because it seems like everyone else is doing it. 

In some cases, a person might share someone else’s nude pic with the intention to harm them – for example, after a relationship break up, or if they are bullying them.

Whatever the reason, it’s always wrong to share nude images of another young person. And it’s illegal - sharing a nude image of someone under 18 is a criminal offence under the Sexual Offenses Act 2003.

How does it feel to have a nude image shared?

It can be devastating to have a nude image or video 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 they find it hard to keep coming to school or concentrate on their studies, they might miss out on the education 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 of someone else. And if you find out others are, do something about it.

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

4 myths about sending nudes

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

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

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

    It’s wrong to share private images that you’ve been sent. Every time an image is shared, it causes more harm to the person in the image. Anyone who shares a nude of someone under 18 is breaking the law and should be reported to the police.  

  3. Adults won't understand

    There are plenty of adults who will help out if private pics have been made public. If the first adult you talk to isn’t that helpful, try someone else. And if you don’t want to talk to an adult you know, you can speak to someone at Childline.

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

    If this happens to someone you know, you can help them by being a supportive friend. Images can be taken down once they’ve been reported. You can vow not to share nudes any further. You can get support from an adult who understands.

What to do if a nude 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 privately, 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. 

  • Report the image(s) and any abusive comments

You can report nude images and abusive comments that have been posted publicly on a social network (like Snapchat or Instagram). A nude image or video of an under 18 is considered a child abuse image and once it is reported most social networks will take it down immediately. Read more about how to report on social networking sites here. You can also report images to Childline.

  • Speak to CEOP

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 embarrassing. 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.