My girlfriend and I have recently started sending dirty pictures to each other via Snapchat because we both really wanted too.


Did you know this?

Sexting is a way of experimenting with sexuality, and often occurs with a girlfriend, a boyfriend or a crush. A sexual message – also called a sext – is not necessarily a nude image. One in five young people have sent an explicit message. LGBT young people engage in sexting more than heterosexual young people. Nearly one in three girls have been pressured to make and send explicit images before. Among boys, the figure is one in ten. Sending or showing sexts without consent is punishable by law.

Why young people sext

Sexting is a way to explore your sexual preferences. Digital flirting can add spice to your relationship. For example, you may find it exciting to get nudes from your girlfriend or boyfriend, or you may find it exciting that someone is aroused by your message, photo or video. It can also be a way of enjoying each other if you are separated, such as when one of you is on holiday.

But sexting is not without risks. Showing, sending or receiving intimate images may also be done under pressure and cause harm to another person. Just think of situations when someone forwards or shows your sexts to other people, for whom they are not intended. In some cases, sexting involves transgressive behaviour. This is punishable by law.

The same goes for making, sharing and showing deep nudes. Deep nudes are fake nude photos generated through artificial intelligence based on an existing photo of a real person. These images might be used to blackmail victims, seek revenge or commit fraud on social networking and dating sites. Often the victims are teenage girls.

Safe sexting

These five tips contribute to safe sexting:

  • Think about whether you trust the other person. Only send nude photos or videos to someone who will get them and whom you trust completely. If in doubt, don't do it.
  • Check that you both want this. Think carefully about whether you really want to send a picture or video of yourself and don't let yourself be pressured. Also, do not send photos without asking if the other person is okay with it.
  • Make clear agreements. Before sending a message or picture, discuss what you both feel comfortable with. What can the person do with it, and what can't they? A good agreement is to delete the photo immediately after you view it.
  • Make yourself unrecognisable. Keep your face and recognisable features such as a tattoo, piercing, birthmark or scar out of the picture. Also make sure the surroundings are as neutral as possible. If the photo is spread anyway, you will not be recognisable.
  • Keep photos of others to yourself. Sexts forwarded without permission are punishable. Treat explicit images of others with respect, even if you no longer get along well.

Victim of sexting?

Did someone spread intimate images or messages of you without your permission? The consequences for victims of sexting are different for everyone. While some recover fairly quickly, for others it can have a major impact.

Victims often experience shame and emotional problems such as stress and anxiety symptoms, mood swings and an increased risk of depression, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and withdrawing from friends and family. Sometimes a person is so badly affected by what has happened that it can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

What you can do about it

If you are a victim of sexting, it is important to protect yourself and talk about your problems with someone close to you.

Here's what you can do:

  • Collect evidence by taking screenshots so the perpetrator cannot deny their behaviour.
  • Contact the person or persons spreading the images. Do you suspect who is spreading your nude photos? If so, contact them. Explain that forwarding explicit images without another person's permission is punishable and ask them to stop doing so immediately. Do the same with people who you know have further forwarded your images, as this too is punishable.
  • Report the incident or inappropriate posts to the administrators of the platform where the bullying took place. On Facebook and Instagram, you can easily report photos and posts and have them removed. Administrators can deactivate or restrict the poster's account if necessary to prevent future incidents.
  • Take a step back from social media and digital devices. In addition to blocking the person, you can also disconnect from social media sites or keep your phone in another room to help distance yourself from the incident.
  • Consider filing a complaint. It is your full right to file a complaint against anyone who has forwarded your images. You can go straight to the police, but you can also ask an organisation like Child Focus or the Instituut voor de gelijkheid van vrouwen en mannen to guide you through this.
  • Find support and talk about it with someone you trust such as a teacher, parent or friend. As well as people close to you, there are also specific organisations or services you can turn to for help or a listening ear. Some can even be contacted anonymously.

Talking about it was very difficult, but it's good to feel that I'm not alone with this any more.


Talk about it and seek help

Are you worried about sexting? Then talk to someone you are close with, you feel comfortable with and trust. Talking can offer great relief and help you figure things out. You can also take the first step towards seeking help together.

If you struggle to talk to someone in your close surroundings, try to approach a person who is familiar with similar experiences, such as a GP or a student advisor at your college or university.

If you prefer to share your story anonymously, contact Awel (102 or via, Tele-Onthaal (106 or via and the Suicide Hotline (1813) for questions about suicidal thoughts.

The Child Focus ClickSafe helpline (116000 or is available for acute problems related to cyberbullying. Via the helpline, you can receive advice on how to combat bullying and be referred to specific organisations that can help you find a solution. The Instituut voor de gelijkheid van vrouwen en mannen can also guide you through this.

In serious situations, you can file a complaint against the bully with the police. It is important to have enough evidence, such as screenshots, if you take this step.

What if you witness sexting?

When sexting happens in an online forum, there are often multiple witnesses. Although you would think that more people would respond to sexting, the opposite often happens. This is because people assume that someone else will intervene.

As a bystander to unwanted sexting, you can therefore play an important role in stopping the bullying. Here's what you can do:

  • Speak up for the victim. Address the perpetrator and condemn the bullying behaviour.
  • Offer emotional support. Give the victim a pat on the back, ask "How are you?", invite them to do something fun together, etc.
  • Encourage the victim to seek help from someone he or she trusts.
  • Tell someone in authority, such as a teacher, counsellor, parent or coach you trust about what you observe online or through social media.
  • Report what you see to the safety team on the site where the bullying is taking place.

Worried about a friend?

Have you noticed that a friend is a victim of sexting and you are worried about this? Talk about it and share your concerns, without judging them.

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