Youth Produced Sexual Imagery/Sexting

Youth Produced Sexual Imagery (YPSI) can be defined as sexual, naked or semi-naked photos or videos generated by a young person (under 18) of themselves; these images may be shared between children and young people directly via mobile phones, webcams or online. This is sometimes referred to as “sexting”.

This may be considered a harmful sexual behaviour, depending on the age of the child and the context in which the image was taken and shared.

There are many reasons why a young person may engage in this type of behaviour, for example:

  • Flirting or as part of a consensual sexual relationship
  • Attention seeking or boosting their self-esteem
  • Exploring their sexual feelings or sexual identity
  • Banter, dares and jokes
  • Peer-pressure or the misconception that ‘everyone does it’
  • Coercion, threats or blackmail.

It is a crime to take, make, possess, show or distribute indecent images of any person below the age of 18; it is important to recognise that criminalising children for taking and sharing indecent images of themselves is not in their best interests and should be avoided where possible.

For more information on how to respond to incidents of YPSI, see the guidance from UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) or Kent Safeguarding Children multi-agency partnership.