Sending or sharing provocative or sexually explicit messages, images, photos or videos.
Sexting may not always be voluntary. Young people may be forced or pressured into sending explicit content. This is particularly a risk when communicating on a dating site or with strangers whose real motives might not be known or understood. Even teens who know each other may experience coercion or badgering to send a nude.
Sometimes sexting can lead to sextortion, which is extortion with a sexual component. This is when a person threatens to distribute sexual or intimate images or text messages they have already received unless the victim pays money, provides sexual favours, sends the person more sexual images or videos of themselves or complies with some other demand.
Educating yourself about the risks and talking to your child is one of the best ways to help protect them from any life-changing behaviours and consequences.
Susan MacLean, cyber safety expert, says it is not uncommon for children in primary school to be involved in sexting behaviours.
Here are some of her tips:
Sexting may be a crime if it involves possessing, creating or sharing sexualised images of people under 18 or if it involves harassing people of any age. A young person who possesses, creates or shares sexualised images of someone under 18 can be charged with a criminal offence and may even risk being forced to register as a sex offender. This would prohibit them from working or volunteering in places involving children and may require them to regularly report to police and have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.
State laws differ around Australia and the action taken by police may also differ. For example, in some jurisdictions, a 16-year-old who takes a sexualised photo of themselves on their mobile phone and sends it to someone is committing a crime. In another example, a 19-year-old who is sent a sexually explicit image of a 17-year-old may be liable of being charged with a criminal offence for possessing a sexualised image of a minor.
However, be aware that Commonwealth Law is applicable in every State and Territory and State Police can charge under Commonwealth Law.
For more information about relevant laws in Australia, visit Lawstuff.