Sexting & Sexual Exploitation
Sexual Exploitation is when a person tricks or manipulates someone into engaging in sexual behaviour.
This can happen in a lot of different ways. Sometimes people will try and make you feel that having sex, or engaging in sexual behaviour, is expected of you (perhaps you owe them a favour, or they bought you an expensive gift). In other cases they might offer you money or a place to stay. Someone might even threaten you with blackmail (maybe they have a sexy picture of you and they've threatened to show it to other people if you don't do what they say).
No matter what the reason, you NEVER have to engage in any sexual behaviour if you don't want to. That includes with your boyfriend/girlfriend: nobody has the right to make you behave in a way you're not comfortable with, and forcing or manipulating someone to have sex is illegal.
The aim of this article is to provide you with the information and resources you need to help protect you from all forms of sexual exploitation. If you know of any good websites or resources, or have any advice, please leave a comment below. If you need support you can contact MEIC anonymously 24/7.
Sexual Exploitation: Sex, Secrets And Lies
As we said earlier, sexual exploitation can take many forms. Barnardo's Cymru and the Welsh Government have produced a guide to understanding and protecting yourself from sexual exploitation. The guide is short and easy-to-read, and available in English and Welsh. You can read it online or download a free copy below:
Sexual behaviour doesn't just mean having sex. Sharing an explicit image of yourself over the internet or a mobile phone is also sexual behaviour, and is called sexting. Just like with sex, nobody can ever make you do this if you don't want to.
One of the biggest dangers of sexting is that anything digital can be very easily shared. You might send a picture to your boyfriend/girlfriend and make them promise to keep it secret, but all it takes is one person to go through their phone/computer and share it and it could end up all over the internet. There have been cases of couples breaking up and then sharing their ex's private photos with friends or online, and once a picture is online it can be copied and shared across the planet.
(On a similar note: you should always be aware of your webcam. People can always take screenshots and video clips so don't assume a Skype conversation is necessarily as private as you think it is. It is also possible to install a virus which hacks into your webcam, so you should avoid getting changed in front of it.)
While anyone who persistently asks you to engage in sexting (and certainly anyone who attempts to force you or makes you feel threatened) should be reported, there are also occasions when a person just needs to be told that it's inappropriate to ask for naughty pictures and you're not interested in doing that. Particularly if it's a friend/partner who asks you to sext them, you may feel obliged because you don't want to say no to someone you care about.
That's why ChildLine have developed the Zipit app: it helps you to humorously and diplomatically tell people that you're not interested in sharing private pictures that might end up on the internet. It also gives you important advice on things like how to chat safely and what to do if you're worried.
Zipit is available for free on all smartphones. Get it here or search for it in your app store.
THINKUKNOW - A brilliant website full of information and videos about Sexual Exploitation
What Is Sexting? - Great advice and guidance
CEOP Safety Centre - How to report a concern and find support
GetSafeOnline - Learn how to protect your computer and yourself online
MEIC - Call, text or IM for free, 24/7, in confidence with your questions or concerns