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Staying safe online

Sexting

Sexting is sharing messages, images and videos which have a sexual element. For example, a picture of yourself not wearing anything.

Once you’ve sent something, it can very quickly leave your control. If someone takes a screenshot or shares it, it can be hard to know where the image has gone.

If you’ve sent a picture that you regret, ask the person to delete it. There’s lots of advice from Netsafe about what to do if you regret sending an image.

You should only ever do what you’re comfortable with and only if you want to do it. You shouldn’t do anything just because your friends say they’re doing it or because someone asks you to do it.

Even if an image or video was taken with your consent, it can be an offence (a crime) for others to then share it without your consent. This is sometimes called revenge porn.

Revenge porn

Revenge porn is when someone shares (or threatens to share) images or videos of you without your consent and with the aim to embarrass or shame you. It might be an ex after a relationship ends, a friend who is angry, or someone who is trying to blackmail you into sending more images.

They may share or threaten to share the images on social media, with your friends or family, or with people at school or work.

If someone shares private sexual images or videos of you on social media, you can report it to the site or app immediately and they should remove it. Social networks don’t allow nudity so it should be easy to report. This is especially true if the image is of someone under 18.

If an image or video is shared without your consent, you can get help from Netsafe. Netsafe runs a free and confidential service, and they can tell you what options you have to deal with the situation. You can call them, email them or fill out an online report form.

If an image or video is being shared around your school, let your school know and they should support you.

Revenge porn is a form of online sexual harassment and can be a crime under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. Threatening to share image/videos is also an offence under the Act.

Talking to people online

  • Chatting to people online can be a fun and easy way to get to know new people, but there are some important things to be aware of:
  • Check your privacy settings on social media so you know what people can and can’t see.
  • People online might not be who they claim to be.
      - If you’re talking to someone new, ask yourself if their profile seems real (are there photos, do you have friends in common, do they have other friends, do they provide any information about themselves?) If it doesn’t feel right, stop talking to them.
      - Never send pictures of yourself to someone you don’t know well.
  • Meeting up with people you’ve met online can be risky because you don’t know who they really are. But, if you have decided you really want to meet up with someone, there are some things you can do to keep yourself safer:
      - Tell your parents or whānau first.
      - Bring a friend with you – don’t go alone.
      - Meet in a public place, like a mall or McDonalds.
      - Don’t go somewhere else with them after you’ve met, unless it’s safe and in public.
  • If you have been chatting with someone new, don’t let them pressure you into meeting up with them in person or sending them images or videos of yourself. No matter how long you have been chatting, you don’t owe them anything and you may not really know them, even if it feels like you do.
  • Don’t share your home address, school or where you work with people you meet online.
  • Don’t give out your phone number to people you meet online. It’s best to chat through the app or site instead. It might save you lots of unwanted calls and texts if you want to stop being friends.
  • Be nice to people - treat people like you would in person. Just because you are anonymous, doesn’t mean you should behave any differently. Remember whatever you write or send, will stay on the internet forever.
  • If you see something online that you don’t like or find upsetting, or if you’re worried about something you might have done, tell a trusted adult who will be able to help you.

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