Police are warning parents that they could be prosecuted if their children are sending indecent images over mobile phone.

Sexting is when a person takes an indecent photo of themself and sends it to someone via text, WhatsApp or Snapchat.

But what does the law say about sexting?

Kent Police say that although sexting can be seen by young people as harmless, creating or sharing indecent images of children under 18 is illegal, even if the person doing it is themselves a child.

Susie Harper, Detective Superintendent at Kent Police said: “If a child’s mobile phone contract is in his or her parent’s name, then the parent can be liable for what the phone is used for, and any indecent material that is saved or sent from it.”

As well as the legal consequences, ‘sexting’ can cause both emotional and reputational damage.

If you’re concerned someone is sending you indecent images of children or young people under 18, report it to Think U Know or Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

A young person will be breaking the law if they:

Take an explicit (nude or nearly nude) photo or video of themselves or a friend if they are below the age of 18.

Share an explicit image or video of a child, even if it’s shared between children of the same age.

Possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child, even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.

Whilst the police said they do not wish to unnecessarily criminalise young people, this could potentially affect a child’s reputation, education and future employment prospects.

Kent Police said its Youth Engagement Officers will be liaising with schools to raise awareness of the consequences of taking, sharing and/or receiving of nude images of other young people as well as signposting to sources of support.

Go to kent.police.uk/advice/sexual-offences/sexting/