Sexting and Sending Nudes
Hi it’s, Susan McLean. And today we’ll be talking about sexting or sending a nude image, again something that has been around for a long time. As soon as mobile phones had cameras on them, people decided it would be a good idea to share sexualised images to their intimate partners. And as a consenting adult, other than the fact that the image may be leaked or it might be used to blackmail you, it’s not a crime. But as technology has progressed and as more and more young people have access to technology involving cameras, we know that young people are engaging in the sending and receiving of nude images.
So what is sexting? Sexting is a term primarily used by old people, adults. Young people don’t use the term sexting anymore. They’re really the talk about sending a nude, a naked selfie, a tit pic or a dick pic. Very self-explanatory. We know that young people often share these with people they like. They share them in a relationship. It’s often seen as part of the flirting and dating process. We know also that some young people are pressured and coerced into sharing these images.
Sharing of a naked or sexually explicit picture or video of a person under the age of 18 years electronically is by legal definition, child exploitation material, a very serious criminal offense. And whilst the law was not written for young people engaging in consentually sharing intimate images, it is being applied. So it does mean that young people face enormous legal risks as well as social and emotional consequences if they engage in these behaviors.
Unfortunately, throughout Australia, laws are not consistent. So we have some young people in certain states treated one way, and others in other states treated in a very different way. And again, I’ll be speaking about the actual legislation in one of the later videos.
But if we look at the sharing of these images holistically and we look at it with a baseline, it is a criminal offence. If you take, send or share or possess a naked, sexually explicit image of a person under the age of 18 years, including of yourself, you have manufactured, possessed and potentially transmitted child exploitation material.
The people that receive that image can then be charged with possession of child exploitation material, very serious criminal charges and ones we don’t want young people to be brought before the courts on unless absolutely necessary. We’re lucky in Victoria that several years ago an amendment to the law came in so that there are in certain situations the opportunity for police to deal with young people consentually sharing nude images in a way that puts them down the path of education rather than through the criminal justice system.
Adding on to this, what I often see in schools is young girls in particular complaining about being harassed for a nude photo. It almost seems like a Saturday sport for some of the men, or the young boys, who believe that eliciting these photos from girls is a fun and good activity to participate in.
Young girls feel that they need to provide these photos in order to be liked or to fit in. Please talk to your children, male and female, about the sharing of nude images.
We know and we are seeing children in primary school now sharing these images. How are they sharing them? By taking them where you can’t see, so please, no matter what, make sure that your children do not have access to devices with cameras and Internet connections in bedrooms and bathrooms. Because what that does, it removes the opportunity for them to take these photos.
We also know that young people are often bombarded with nude images as a joke or harmless fun, perhaps. Not really.
If someone is harassing your child to share images of themselves, if someone is bombarding your child with nude images of themselves, that is also a crime. It falls under the harassment laws. Young people don’t have to tolerate online sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Linked to this is something we call sextortion. Sextortion was a term invented by the FBI about 10 years ago. It’s a combination of the words sex and extortion. So basically blackmail with a sexual component.
And we’re seeing children in primary schools in Australia become the victims of sextortion. Sextortion occurs in two main ways. One, where the offender is known to the victim. And one, when it’s an online friend. So in the case of knowing the offender, relatively easy for police to deal with because the victim can say, well, it’s actually Tom or Eric or Brian from the school down the road.
But the online friends situation’s a little bit different. We know organized criminal gangs setting up in call centres in Eastern Europe and Russia are actually peppering the Internet with fake accounts.
It doesn’t matter who they connect with. The minute they have a photo, they will then demand money. I’ve dealt with 17 year old boys that have been blackmailed to the tune of five thousand dollars because they have shared an intimate image of themselves with someone they thought they liked, someone they were trusting of, who then decided to blackmail them.
These are difficult conversations to have with your children, but ignoring the bad stuff that comes with the Internet doesn’t fix the problem, nor does it prevent it. Open and honest communication is vital. We need to make sure that young people are aware of not only the laws, but also the fact that these images once shared are out there and you have lost control. Again, in Australia, through the office of the eSafety Commissioner, there is the image based abuse portal, which I’ll discuss later.
And that is one of the only places in the world where people that have been the victims of image based abuse, the nonconsentual sharing of intimate images, can go to get help to have those images removed.
Talk early and talk often. It’s vital that your children understand what they might be confronted with. The sad reality is the majority of year seven girls, by the end of year seven, will have been asked for a nude photo. So the earlier you have these conversations, the better.
So I’d really like you to join me on the 10th of June at seven thirty pm for a very special Facebook live event. It’s called BYOC, Bring Your Own Child.
This one is for parents and young people in secondary school. I ask that you sit with your son or daughter and learn together about the reality of the online world.
I’ll be helping you to understand how you can best help them. And I’ll be making sure that the young people in your life have access to the correct up to date information about what being safe online looks like. Visit my Facebook page to register your interest to attend. I hope to see there.