The term sexting is becoming a common term to us now. It can involve the use of words and/or taking nude or explicit images/videos, and sending it to friends or a boy/girlfriend via a mobile phone or online communities like Facebook.
Although at the time of sending the message it can seem to be fun or sexy, if these images end up being shown to more than just the intended person the consequences can be large. And once you press the send button you are also giving up YOUR control on those images which means they could end up anywhere and seen by anybody (yes that includes the milk man, your teacher, your Gran…)
Regaining control of these images can be hard, once distributed they can remain in our virtual world with potential to crop up years after for example when potential employers are researching you or when you are on the brink of stardom.
Sexting and the Law
Commonwealth law, Part 10.6 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 makes it an offence to access, transmit, publish, possess, control, supply, or obtain child pornography (yes, if the image is of someone under 18 this is legally what it becomes).
And just because the people sending and receiving the images are the same age doesnâ€™t mean the laws donâ€™t apply. If the images or video in question is in relation to a minor, the individual who possesses or distributes the material might be in breach of the law. You can be charged even if it is a photo of you and you agree to the photo being sent.
But I received an image â€“ does the law apply to me?
Yes! Kidshelp Line highlights if you’re found to have a naked or semi-naked photo of someone under 18 on your phone or your computer, you can be charged with a criminal offence. If you forward the photo to someone else you can be charged with a criminal offence even if you delete it from your own phone. So don’t forward on any you receive.
I sent an image â€“ now what?
OK so you got caught up in the moment and sent a picture now and you are worried about what might happen. Here some steps you can take to try and make sure that it doesn’t get sent to others and/or you don’t get accused of sending inappropriate things:
- Ask the person you sent it to, to delete the message from their phone or inbox
- If the image was sent via an online community or it ends up on these contact the service direct to have it removed. Make sure you copy and paste the URL of where it is located. You can do this by visiting their safety centres and following their reporting links.
- If the situation has gotten out of your control, talk to a trusted adult or contact a Kidshelp Line counsellor to work out what you can do.
They are asking me to send images
If a FWB, girlfriend/boyfriend or anyone is asking you so send indecent images or texts, remember, you have the right to say No because just like any form of sexual behaviour they need your full 100% consent. Check out our blog on Consent is Sexy for more info on you right to say No.
I’ve received an Image
OK, so the phone beeps, or your Facebook message box is flashing a new message and you have been sent a â€˜sexyâ€™ image. What now?
First, do not send this image on to others, you may not only be breaking the law, but you are also making a situation for the person in the photos even worse, so do the right thing and press delete. You should also report it to a responsible adult.
Kidshelp Line also offer these tips:
- If the text is from a friend, tell them you do not want any more texts/messages like that from them
- If the texts keep coming, then block that sender. Unfriend them from your social networking account. Block their number on your phone
- You might need to change your mobile number. If you do, make sure that only friends you trust get your new number
For information on how to block people visit thinkyouknow.org.au for some great guides
Receiving the image may also worry or upset you, if so can give Kidshelp Line a call talk to a trained consellour or talk to a parent, lecturer etc
Getting help and Support
Talk to your parents, another adult that you trust or Kidshelp Line. If you’ve got yourself in a mess, they might be able to help you out of it, you can also chat to them if you are upset or worried by an image you have sent or received.
If you have come across content which you believe to be illegal or prohibited, you can report it to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) via their online form.
Check out these great videos that unpack what can happen once the SEND button is hit
Pink Pictures by darwin bell Flickr under a creative commons license
Want to see your blog here?
Would you like to see you blog featured here? We are on the look out for Youth Content Producers – check out our Be Involved page for how to.