#teensexting | #sexting | Sexting: Common mistake that could ruin your teenager’s life

An alarming number of Australian teenagers are engaging in a serious criminal act that could quite literally destroy their lives.

An alarming number of Australian teenagers are engaging in “sexting” – the sending or sharing intimate of sexually explicit messages and images – and the disturbing trend could have disastrous consequences.

The latest research shows that one-in-three Aussie teens said they had actually experienced sexting in some way – whether sending, receiving, asking, being asked, sharing or showing nude or nearly nude pictures.

The trend has been thrust into the public spotlight after many alleged sexual abuse victims from Australia schools – speaking out about their experiences in an online forum created by former Kambala student Chantel Contos – said images of their attacks ended up being circulated through messaging services.

Despite many instances of teens sending ‘nudes’ or ‘dick pics’ take place between young people who are in consensual relationships, the fallout can be devastating for those involved.

Once an image is shared, it can be copied and saved by others, shared with people the sender does not know and posted on social media and public websites.

Images can be extremely difficult to remove and the consequences can follow a young person into adulthood.

For those who are the subject of the images, the sharing can lead to humiliation, guilt, shame, anger and self-blame, as well as bullying from their peers.

The consequences for those sharing the images can also lead to life-ruining consequences.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said anyone sending an unsolicited nude photo of an underage person could risk 15 years in jail.

“Creating or accessing child abuse material is an offence, even if you are a child yourself,” she said.

“These images can be traded by online child sex offenders and are known to end up in their child abuse material collections.

“Having naked or even a partially naked image of a person under the age of 18 – including one of yourself – may be classified as child sexual abuse material.”

Even if those prosecuted avoid jail time, they face the prospect of a criminal record and registration as a sex offender in some circumstances.

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.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told news.com.au Australian teenagers are growing up in a world where sexting and the sending of intimate content has become a “normalised courtship ritual”.

She said it’s important for parents to do what they can to warn their children of the dangers.

“Parents need to be having conversations early and often with their kids about respect, consent and empathy,” she said.

“We need to help our children (and each other) understand that while technology can be used to express sexuality or share intimacy with someone, it’s not without risk, responsibility and potentially devastating impacts.”

Advice for young people on receiving unsolicited nudes

• If you receive a nude image and know the person – and you are comfortable with responding to them – let them know that sending you a nude is not on.

• You can report it in-app or through the social media service, before deleting the content. You can also block them in-app or block their number on your device.

• If you have received a nude you didn’t ask for, delete it. Don’t send it to anyone else.

• If the content is concerning you and you’re feeling a little out of your depth, talk to a trusted adult or a counselling and support services.

• Counselling and support services include the Kids Helpline, contact details are available here.

Advice for parents if your child has received an intimate image of someone

• Report the situation if necessary. If the material was sent by an adult, contact your local police.

• Sometimes unsolicited nude image sharing with a child can be a ‘grooming’ tactic – someone building a relationship with a child in order to sexually abuse them. This abuse can happen in a physical meeting, but it increasingly happens online when children or young people are tricked or persuaded into sexual activity on webcams or into sending sexual images.

• If your child receives an unsolicited nude image from a stranger online, even if the stranger claims to be a peer, it’s important to report it to police.

• If your child starts to become uncomfortable about an online relationship with a peer who they know in real life, they should block them and report inappropriate contact to the site or service used to contact them.

• If the image sharing is exploitative, extreme or persistent in nature (for example, if you or your child have asked them to stop sending images and they continue), consider reporting the behaviour to the school or police.

Reporting the images

• If you have made a report to police, please follow their advice. Do not close accounts or report them to the site if the matter is under police investigation (unless the police advise otherwise) as this may hamper the ability to retrieve evidence. It may be possible to deactivate your child’s account instead.

• Unless advised otherwise by the police, delete the image. Ask your child to delete the material immediately to prevent any further harm to the young person in the image and to protect your child from legal risks.

• Contact the sender if possible. If the sender is another young person of a similar age who may not realise that the contact is unwanted, help your child set boundaries with that person and let them know that they do not want to receive any further material of this type.

• If you have asked for the behaviour to cease and it continues, you may want to advise your child’s school (be aware that some schools have mandatory reporting requirements and depending on the circumstances, may be required to report the matter to relevant authorities).

• Explore options with your child to block the sender on their device, messaging apps and social media or through their mobile phone provider.

Having difficult conversation with your kids

• Work out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Perhaps have the talk while you’re doing something together, like a long walk or a car trip.

• Listen and don’t judge – let your child know you are there to help them, no matter what. Listening will also help you understand their attitudes and respond to specific issues.

• Ask questions. Asking questions about how they feel and what they know helps you to gauge your child’s level of knowledge and keeps you from lecturing.

• Get help. There are a number of services available to help you and your child including Parentline and Kids Helpline.

Source link