What are the risks of sexting?

Creating and/or distributing sexual images with minors may constitute the production and/or distribution of child sexual abuse material. This can be the case even if the people in the image are willing participants. Outcomes vary by state and territory and are addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Students may also encounter social consequences. Images can easily escape their control through being shared more broadly than they had anticipated. This can have a long-term impact on their digital reputation. Images can also potentially be used for cyberbullying or cyberstalking, or they may attract unwanted attention from others.

How can I help manage the risks in my school?

To help protect their image both online and offline, young people need to consider how they manage their messages and images and those of others. If you suspect, or are made aware of, sexting activity in your school, you can contact the local police or your education authority for more advice.

Be very cautious if you have intercepted any content which may constitute child sexual abuse material, and do not interact with the information, forward or share it in any way, including to school authorities. Immediately seek guidance from local police.

Are there practical steps that I can take?

There are plenty of practical measures you can take in your school environment to help reduce the risks and incidences of sexting amongst your students.

  • Refer involved students to confidential support services such as Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Implement an eSafety program that includes respectful relationships across all years. Resources of particular relevance include the Sexting Units of Work for middle and upper secondary students and Cybersmart Access for students with special education needs.
  • Read and download copies of So You Got Naked Online for the classroom. It provides practical advice for students who over-share online.
  • Print your own posters for use in senior common rooms and welfare areas.
  • Use these videos to support class discussion and activity:

    Rewrite Your Story - Jarrod's story
    It can be easy to stand back, say nothing and let the situation play out. But does that make you part of the problem?

    Be Deadly Online - That's not team spirit
    Sexy pics flying around? Respect for yourself and your culture means keeping sexy pics where they belong – in your head!

    Cyberbullying, sexting, filmed fights and police action—will these friends avoid being tagged forever?
  • Look at education resources around respectful relationships, such as Respect me. Don’t Sext me produced by the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault in Victoria.

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