I have read a book called The Best Possible Answer by Katherine Kottaras which is a young adult fiction book. Despite it being fictional, the main character Viviana finds herself in a very real, modern and scary situation. Between the ages of 13 – 17 as a teenager / young adult you will gain more freedom (exciting)! However, when given freedom to use a device such as a mobile phone, not only must you make sure to have fun, you need to be safe and cyber-aware! If you are not safe and careful when using them, mistakes can happen, and you can find yourself in a very vulnerable situation. In this book, we learn how Viviana thought she was love with her high school sweetheart Dean. She thought he had the upmost respect for her and was trustworthy. This led to Viviana sending Dean via social media an explicit photo of her body which he then sent around online causing her to be bullied and humiliated. This was a situation in which she trusted the other person and thought it would be for him only. This story shows how sending explicit photos online can cause issues for you such as bullying. Now to explore the law surrounding sexting (sending an explicit photo to another).
Someone is asking me for a photo, what do I do?
As per the Protection of Children Act 1978, it is an offence to take or permit to be taken a photo of a child (under 18) and or to share around that photo. As well as this, it is also illegal to be in possession of that photo. This means that if you are under the age of 18, it is illegal (against the law) to send explicit photos or videos and like the situation experienced by Viviana when her boyfriend Dean shared around her photo, this too is illegal. In other words, if you are not a legal adult (18 years old), then it is illegal to send such photos or keep them of others who are also under 18.
I already sent a photo and they want to use it against me, what do I do?
As a child/young adult, you have rights made specifically for you! One of these rights which is really important here is Article 16 UNCRC which concerns your privacy. Your photos on your phone are private and no one should be sharing these photos without your permission. If they are explicit, then because you are under 18, they shouldn’t have or share them even with your consent. Under the age of eighteen, it is illegal for this other person to even have this photo of you. If you know they have the photo and that they are threatening to share it around, this is a crime. If they then go on to in fact share the photo, this too is illegal. It is also a crime for other people to view these photos/videos. If someone has already posted a photo of you online, then you must report it either to an adult you trust, the police, your school, or the Internet Watch Foundation.
I need more information about relationships and social media.
If after this, you think you might need some help with relationships concerning any issue, please visit the following link: https://childrenslegalcentre.wales/how-the-law-affects-me/relationships/
If you wish to find out more about using social media safely, please visit the following link: https://childrenslegalcentre.wales/how-the-law-affects-me/online/
For more general questions and other topics surrounding children’s rights in Wales, please visit: Twitter and Facebook – @childlegalwales #ReadingMyRights and Instagram – @childlegal_wales
My name is Rhiannon and I’m a 20-year-old law student. My hobbies include cooking, table tennis and reading! The task I have been given is to help children/ young adults understand how the law applies to them (you) through literature.