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Is it legal to sext

03/10/18 - Female, 16 :

Hello! I'm 16 and recently I met a guy online who I agreed to date after sometime. How ever the only problem is that he is above 20 while i'm only 16. Is it legal to sext in a relationship like this(with no nudes or pictures, just talk-sex)? And is there a way for authorities to "trace" us down?

Ali says -

Hello and thank you for your message.

As you are 16, you are above the legal age of consent in the UK to make your own decisions about having sex and engaging in sexual acts.  ‘Sexting’ can take several forms including sex talking and exchanging sexual images.

The important thing is that you feel you can trust who you are ‘sexting’ with that you feel comfortable about doing this and are choosing freely to engage in ‘sexting’ without feeling forced or pressured.  If this is the case, ‘talk sex’ can be quite harmless. 

Sometimes, things develop from ‘talk sex’ into ‘sexting’ which is when someone shares or asks their partner to send sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others.  This can become more dangerous, as once you share images or explicit messages with someone else, you no longer have control of it and they may become public without your permission. 

Under British law it is legal to have sex aged 16, but it is illegal and a serious criminal offence to take, hold or share "indecent" photos of anyone aged under 18.

In answer to the second part of your question, authorities can trace down anything they want or need to if there is a reason to do so, or if they deem someone is breaking the law, or someone is at risk. 

You don’t say if you’ve actually met face to face.  Please remember that in internet relationships people may not be who they say they are or the age they say they are.

If this does happen, and you feel that you are being asked to do something that you are feeling uncomfortable about, it may be helpful to talk to someone at school or at home about it.   Alternatively you can talk to Childline here on line or in person. 


You can read more about the risks around sexting and keeping yourself safe on the NSPCC website 


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