This article was contributed by NCA-CEOP

NCA-CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency. As well as being a reporting mechanism, NCA-CEOP works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify the main threats to children, and coordinates activity against these threats to bring offenders to account.

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Sexting: NCA-CEOP says don't panic, but do respond

still from animated film

Image: still from film, Nude Selfies Thinkuknow, NCA-CEOP

NCA-CEOP's short films on nude selfies, or ‘nudes’, offer advice to parents on how to respond if your child shares a picture online they regret. The films are based on research conducted over two years.

Selfies are a new global phenomenon and are often harmless and fun. But selfie-takers don’t always keep their clothes on. With the rise of the selfie has come growing concern about young people taking and sharing revealing photos or videos – often referred to in the media as ‘sexting’.

Research by the EU research project Spirto, Self-Produced Images: Risk Taking Online, found young people believed that the sending of sexual images was a common and expected behaviour.

‘Perhaps the most surprising fact to come out of the research was that the vast majority of revealing selfies are shared by adults’

Young people are most certainly not the only ones doing this. Perhaps the most surprising fact to come out of the research was that the vast majority of revealing selfies are shared by adults.

It's potentially risky behaviour, especially for young people. So why do they do it?

Young people have told us that there are many different reasons why they might send a revealing selfie. Often, the picture is sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend they trust. Their motivations are usually to flirt, have fun and feel good about themselves. Sometimes there's no sexual motivation at all, and the image is meant as a joke between friends. But, more worryingly, often some level of persuasion or pressure is involved.1

Whatever the reason for sending the picture, once a young person has hit ‘send,’ they’ve lost control of it.

The consequences for some can be severe: bullying, anxiety and low self-confidence, difficulties with getting future educational or job opportunities and an increased risk of being approached by adults seeking sexual contact online.

How can I keep my child safe?

Get the knowledge you need
  • Learn about the apps, services, games and websites your child uses.
  • Know what’s risky, and how to get help.
Don’t wait for something to happen before you talk to your child
  • As soon as you feel they’re old enough (and remember some children have shared risky selfies while still in primary school) talk to your child about the risks of sharing revealing selfies.
  • Make sure your child knows that it is not a good idea to send a revealing selfie, and that they should tell you if anyone ever tries to pressure them to do so.
  • Remind your child that when they meet people online, they can’t be sure who they really are. It’s not safe to share personal pictures or info with anyone they have only met online.
  • Make sure your children know that they can always come to you if they are worried about anything, that you will understand, and that you will not be angry or blame them.

If you do find out that your child has sent or shared a revealing selfie online

Stay calm

​It can help to find someone who will listen and support you – like a partner, close friend or family member.

Talk to your child

When you feel calm enough, talk to your child about what has happened. Try to understand it from their point of view. Make sure they know that you are not angry and do not blame them. Remember they are probably feeling very anxious.

Together, make a plan 

NCA-CEOP’s Nude Selfies films give lots of information about how to get photos taken down online, and where to get help if you need it. You can watch the films at​

Where to get help

Here are some key sources of support for young people whose revealing image has been shared:

  • Report to NCA-CEOP if you have any concerns about grooming, sexual abuse or exploitation, at
  • Contact your child’s school so that they can support your child and follow up the incident with other students who might have seen or shared the photo.
  • Report the image to social networks it appears on, so that they will take it down quickly. Find out how to do this on some of the most popular sites at
  • Report the image to the Internet Watch Foundation ( if you need their help removing it from a site without a ‘report’ function.

Nude Selfies: What Parents and Carers Need to Know

NCA-CEOP has produced four short animated films on its Thinkuknow website, packed with information and advice on helping your child avoid taking risks online and where to get help if anything goes wrong.

Watch all four films

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: May 2018

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