Is it illegal to send sexual messages to someone under 15 years old?/ Är det olagligt att skicka sexuella meddelanden till någon under 15 år?

I am a school teacher and am advising my students. In some countries if a 17 yr old is going out with a 14 yr old they have to be very aware of the law otherwise the 17 yr old could be prosecuted. I am clear on what the says about actual sexual acts but I was asked by a student about sexting - what is the law if a 17 yr old sends a very sexually explicit message to their 14yr old boyfriend/ girlfriend?

Lawline svarar

 Hi,
Thank you for contacting Lawline.  

When it comes to these types of questions, we’ll look primarily at the 6th chapter of Brottsbalken.  

Taking naked pictures 

Encouraging or using a child under the age of 15 to participate in sexual posing can be charged with exploitation of children for sexual posing (utnyttjande av barn för sexuell posering) according to the 6th chapter 8 § Brottsbalken. This paragraph also apply to children who have turned 15 but not yet 18 if the posing is intended to harm the child's health or development. 

To be considered sexual posing the pose must, to an adult, have a clear and unmistakable sexual character.  

Please note that having, spreading, or acquiring such picture of a child is also a crime according to the 16th chapter 10 a § Brottsbalken. In this paragraph there is no exception or special rule if the child is over 15, instead it applies to all children equally as long as they have not turned 18. 

Talking about sexual acts etc.  

A person who induces a child’s participation in an action with a sexual implication can be charged with sexual harassment of a child (sexuellt ofredande av ett barn) according to the 6th chapter 10 § Brottsbalken. This paragraph doesn’t require that the child has been physically touched, sexual harassment of a child can, in other words, be appliable in situations that strictly include messages.  

This paragraph is applied to situations that do not fall under worse crimes, such as having sex with a minor or performing a sexual act with a minor.

Deciding to have a sexual meeting  

Simply deciding to meet a child to do something that is criminalized in 4, 5, 6, 8, or 10 §§ is illegal according to the 6th chapter 10 a § Brottsbalken. Therefore, simply proposing a time to meet with a child to do something that at least falls under sexual harassment of a child is illegal. It is not required that the meeting actually takes place or that the child even agrees to meet. 

An exception 

When it comes to children who are close in age but one is over 15 and one is under, it’s possible that the elder won’t be sentenced (dömd) because of the 6th chapter 14 § Brottsbalken. This exception is intended to be used very restrictively. The court will also factor in things such as the children's relationship with one another and the circumstances under which the sexual contact took place. An example used in the preparatory work of the paragraph mentions when a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old who are in a close and good relationship with each other participate in a mutual and completely voluntary sexual act. 

In conclusion, 

The law includes regulation regarding explicit sexual messages even if there is no picture attached. When it comes to a potential exception it’s important to keep in mind that it is applied restrictively due to the importance the legislator has put on keeping children safe from sexual assault through legislation.  

I hope this helped with your question.  

Best regards,  

Lin ToftRådgivare
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