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National Human Trafficking Hotline Call 1-888-373-788 (TTY:711) Text 233733


Sexting & Sextrotion

What is Sexting?

'Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images, primarily between mobile phones,

of oneself to others, but can be computer to computer too. When people talk about sexting, they usually mean sending and receiving:

  • Naked pictures or 'nudes'
  • 'underwear shots'
  • Sexual or 'dirty pics'
  • Rude or vulgar text messages or videos

They can be sent to or from a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone you've met online. Sexting can easily happen. Things can go wrong – even when you didn't mean for them to.

Sexting might seem fun but it can have serious consequences. Consider too that the person asking for naked pics may actually be a groomer.

What you need to Know about Sexting

  •  once you send a pic you can't control what happens to it
  •  don't let someone guilt or pressure you into sending a sex text
  • if you've sent a nude pic, have an honest conversation with the person you sent it to. Ask them to delete it
  • if an nude pic of you is posted online, tell a parent/guardian or trusted adult and report it to the police
  • consider that you could actually be sexting with an adult who is trying to groom you for sex trafficking

Why do Kids Sext?

There can be several reasons why kids sext, in many cases it's because they are in a romantic relationship and they see it as flirting. Some kids have even describe sexting as a form of safe sex a "you can't get pregnant or get an STD". 

Here are a few other reasons why kids sext:

It's a form of sexual expression - kids say that it's a natural next step in a romantic relationship, it shows that they trust their partner, that it's a form of flirtation or can be used to entice someone they are interested in.

Communication - "it's just the way we communicate", "if I send a sext, then they will send one to me", or as a way to 'prove' my love.

Attention/affirmation - kids may think that sending someone a sext will bring them stardom & get them noticed. Some send sexts because they like the attention & others send them as a form of affirmation.

Social and peer pressure - the ‘sexualisation of culture’ means that many kids feel there’s an expectation to look a certain way and be sexually active. This pressure extends to sending sexts. Peer pressure can further exacerbate the pressure for kids to sext.

Impression management - kids take selfies all the time & many apps allow kids to adjust or 'air brush' their pics so that can look the way they want to be viewed by others. These false images of who they really are can be used as a protective front when kids are engaged in intimate communicate with others online.

Accidentally - this usually happens when kids do not realize that their computer webcam was left on or that someone hacked into their webcam. It's important to cover your webcam when you're not using it.

Coercion/blackmail and revenge - sadly kids have been coerced into sending sexts through peer pressure or false promises of stardom or a modeling career. Others try to gain the kids trust by saying "I love you baby, it's just for me to see". Images have also been used as blackmail, for money or revenge.

Experimental - some kids take naked pics of themselves just to see what their bodies look like, never intending to send them to anyone. However, by legal definition, these personal images could be considered child pornography, which is a legal offense.

Kids share additional reasons they sext:

  • To prove they're cool or sexy
  • Other kids are doing it, so I should too
  • Feel they need to prove their sexuality
  • Feel it's easier to give in when someone keeps pressuring them
  • They "owe" their boyfriend or girlfriend
  • They want approval or to fit in
  • They feel proud of their body & want to show it off

Before you Push the Send Button - think

What could happen to it?

Once you press send, it is no longer in your control. It can be posted anywhere on the internet. It could end up on social networking sites or even porn sites.

Who might see it?

Don't send anything you wouldn't want your parents/guardians, teachers or friends seeing. Even if you completely trust someone, other people using their phone might accidentally see it.

What are webcam risks?

Webcams can be left on by accident or hacked into and someone could be watching you while dress/undress in your room.

Why do you want to send it?

If you want to impress somebody, you can do it in other ways. In most cases, sexting can have the opposite effect and you could be seen as somebody you're not. Don't forget, who you sent the sext to may be shared.

Who are you sending it to?

Ask yourself if you'd feel weird if you were going to do something sexual with them in person. Would you be able to have a conversation about sex with them? Are you sexting for attention or being pressure? Think it through.

I'm Feeling Pressured to send a Sexy Pic - what should I do?

If you feel pressured by someone to send a sext or sexual image, ask yourself the following:

  • Would a true friend ask me to do this?
  • Would someone who really cares about me or loves me ask me to do this?
  • Why do I feel pressured?
  • How will I feel if I send it?
  • If I sent it, how many other people would see it?
  • If I sent it to my boyfriend & we break-up what will he do with it? Can apply to girlfriends too.
  • Do I truly understand that if I hit the 'send" button I can't take it back?
  • Am I willing to face the negative consequences?
  • Do I understand that in many states sending & receiving sexual images is a crime?
  • Block them on social media sites

What I just Sent a Sexy Pic?

What if you decided to send a sexy pic to someone & looking back you know you should not have sent it. Sending a sexy pic can make you feel ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, anxious or worried about who will find out. There are things you can do to make the situation better and prevent it from happening again.

  • First off, take a deep breath - this will help you think calmly about what to do
  • Have an honest conversation - talk with the person you sent the pic to & ask them them delete it & watch them do it. The quicker you're able to do this the better. You can't control what someone will do with an image, but having an honest conversation can help to make sure they won't pass it on.
  • Get help - the sooner you talk to somebody about the situation the better. This could be your parents/guardians or another trusted adult .
  • Untag yourself from the photo
  • Report it - go to the police if the situation gets out of control, so they can intervene.
  • Remember - taking, sending or receiving a sexy image of a person under 18 is illegal – even if it’s of yourself!


The consequences of sexting can range from nothing at all to extremely serious. In most cases, nothing bad happens because the image is never shared beyond the person it was sent to. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk, because there is the possibility the image will be shared later, e.g., after a breakup or seen by someone else who has access to the phone or even accessed and distributed as the result of a hack. 

Is Sexting a Crime?

The Answer is Yes!

When sexting involves minors, it violates both state and federal child pornography laws. But these laws can be very broad. For instance, federal law considers any sexually suggestive image of a minor to be child pornography. The government can prosecute anyone for the production, distribution, reception, and possession of child pornography.

I live in Arizona, so I will refer to the laws of this state. Be sure to click the link below to learn about the laws of your state.

Per Arizona law , the practice of exchanging explicit self-portraits (commonly referred to as sexting) may result in a juvenile complaint or criminal charges if the explicit images involve an underage person. People under 18 years old who exchange sexually explicit pictures of themselves may be charged in juvenile court; while a person 18 years or older who sends, receives, or produces sexually explicit images of a person under 18 years old may be charged with a felony in the state’s superior court.

Arizona has a specific “sexting” law that applies to minors only. In general, a minor who engages in sexting with another minor could be guilty of a petty offense or class 3 misdemeanor depending upon the facts and circumstances. Adults over the age of 18 who engage in sexting with a minor face prosecution under the state’s strict child pornography laws.

To learn about your states law Click Here

Parents & Guardians

Talk with your Kids

It can be uncomfortable talking with your kids about anything related to sex, but if your don't, they will learn from someone else. It is important that your kids understand what sexting is, the dangers & consequences. To kids sexting may seem harmless & simply a form of flirting & flattery & they most likely will not even think about any negative consequences coming from sending a sexual pic to someone.

Parents, learning to talk with your kids about topics that may make them and you squirm a bit is important. It's your job as parents/guardian to guide, protect & give them tools to navigate through their pre-teen and teenage years. 

Start the Conversation

  • Ask your kids if they know what sexting is or what they think it is
  • Ask them why they think someone would want to ask them to send a picture of their naked body
  • Ask them why they think someone would want to send a picture of their naked body to them
  • Ask them what they would do if they were sent a sext from someone
  • Ask them what if the person they thought they were sending a naked picture to was actually a groomer looking for victims
  • Share with them that sending or receiving a sexual pic is against the law

What should you do if you find out your kid has been sexting?

  • Don’t yell, scream or panic.
  • Try to remain calm. It is really important to be able to speak rationally to your kid at this time (you can be angry and upset later)
  • Ask them if the person they were sexting with was an adult
  • Talk to them about your concerns & worries about what happened
  • Tell your kid that you love them & are here to support them
  • Try to find out how many sexts your kid sent
  • Try to find out if your kid sent sexts to more than one person
  • Ask them if they sent videos too
  • Ask them how long this has been going on
  • Contact the police
  • Consider getting help from your church or a therapist
  • Contact their school

The main thing is to remain clam, as your kid is probably emotional, mad, scared, angry & embarrassed. You're screaming at them is not going to help, they will only clam up and then you won't get answers to any of your questions.

Be aware that in some instances, police may need to be involved and schools do have certain legal obligations in relation to the reporting of incidents. Please don’t keep it from the school because you are concerned about police involvement. Police are the best place to deal with these things and have tools to minimize the impact. Police also have the ability to retrieve data and trace electronic communication. The important thing is to act as soon as you are aware of the issue, or if you feel that it is beyond your ability to manage the problem, or if lots of people have the pics.

If you believe that the sexting is a result of your child being groomed online rather than adolescent naivety, be sure to let the police & school know.

What is Sextortion?

Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favors from the victim.

Sextortion is a form of blackmail in which a predator takes photos and/or videos of an unsuspecting victim (usually a minor) and exploits them by requiring more pictures and/or videos be sent or the photos/videos the predator already has will be held for ransom until money is paid.

Red Flags

  • Something doesn’t add up—their online profile isn’t consistent with what you see when you engage with them.
  • It’s happening too fast—they express strong emotions for you almost right away.
  • They are persistent in asking for sexual pictures and/or videos.
  • They try to avoid webcam because they want actual pictures or videos.

What to do if you are being Sextorted

  • Report it to the police
  • Remind yourself it’s not your fault. Remember, anyone can be a victim of sextortion, you are not alone and you haven’t done anything wrong.
  • Don’t panic. Reach out instead—get support from a trusted friend or family member as well as an expert counselling support service if you are feeling anxious or stressed.
  • Don’t pay. Don’t give them any money or send any more pictures of yourself. Giving in to demands will actually make things worse.
  • Stop all contact with the perpetrator. Block them and ask your friends to do the same. Consider temporarily deactivating your social media accounts (but don’t delete them as you may lose evidence that way).
  • Collect evidence. Keep a record of all contact from the perpetrator, particularly any demands or threats and make a note of everything you know about the perpetrator.
  1. Secure your accounts. Change the passwords for your social media and online accounts, and review the privacy and security settings of your accounts.
  • Notify the relevant social media platform.

© 2020 You Can't Groom Me, INC.

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona

501(c)(3) EIN 831725532

Mailing address:

28150 N. Alma School Pkwy #103-436

Scottsdale, AZ 85262