Teenage sexting

The team was joined by TODAY psychologist Jo Lamble for some advice on the teenage trend of sexting.

'Sexting' is sending 'sexy' texts. The texts may be words or images. Sexting with pictures has probably been around as long as mobile phones have had the ability to take photos and send and receive images.

Currently, taking, sending or receiving sexual images of a minor is illegal. 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.

There are no guarantees that the material will not be accessible, even if it has been deleted from a Facebook page or mobile phone.

The emotional pain it causes can be enormous for the child in the picture as well as the sender and receiver--often with legal implications.

Experts have noted that peer pressure can play a major role in the sending of texts, with parties being a major contributing factor.

WORST OUTCOMES

Cyber bullying is the biggest problem - very often, after the image appears online or is passed through mobiles then subjects are cyber bullied by others - e.g. ..."you slut" or "..you're a whore..." or "...you getaround..."

Bullying after sexting can lead to victim engaging in self harm, self injury and at worst suicide.

Sexting can lead to:

  • Depression and social isolation later

  • Destroying of reputations

  • Embarrassment

  • Suspension from school
  • WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

    Keep communication open, honest and non judgemental.

    Keep an eye on the way teens communicate’

    Explain consequences they may not be aware of.

    Don't threaten or tell how horrified you will be.

    Be alert for warnings signs teen is involved - e.g. more secretive, more defensive, agitated after online or using mobile, flicking through images on mobile and hiding lots -. E.g. happy to show you imge of boyfriend or mates, but suddenly hide next shots on mobile or Facebook page.

    Look for emotional warning signs, change in social behaviour - e.g. withdrawing from friends, distress, self harm, depression.

    WHAT CAN TEENS DO

    Report any intimidation, bullying or illegal passing on of images.

    Refuse to pass on images.

    Never give in to bullying, intimidation or even co-ercion by boyfriend if feel uncomfortable or unsure.

    Try to think about consequences in future, not allow self to be governed by how I feel now.

    Be careful of binge drinking and making silly mistakes when drunk.

    If troubled seek help, such as Kids Lifeline 1 800 55 1 800 or Bullying No Way bullyingnoway.com.au

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