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Sexting is making sexually suggestive images and sharing these images using mobile phones or by posting them on the internet and social media. The images might be photographs of yourself or someone else naked or partially naked. You might think that sexting is something risky, dangerous and illegal. For teenagers, sexting is often fun and consensual. They might also see sexting as part of building relationships and self-confidence, and exploring sexuality, bodies and identities.
Young people do worry about their images being shared with other people, including friends and family members. Many try to reduce this risk by making images only for people they trust, and with whom they have or hope to have a romantic or intimate relationship. Young people want to be able to talk openly and honestly with their parents about sexting. And talking with your child is the best way to help your child learn about:. You might feel embarrassed talking with your child about sexting, but it can be part of talking about sexuality. If your child has questions about sexting, try to answer them as honestly and openly as you can.
Your child needs to know that sexting or sending nudes has risks, like the risk of images being shared without consent. It could be shared with other people and put on social media. You could also encourage your child to think about what might happen if they break up or fall out with someone who has sexual images of them. For example, that person might share the sexual images to get revenge on your child. You could also explain that once images are on the internet they can be very difficult to remove.
The best way to protect your child from the risks of sexting is to talk about respectful relationships and trust. You can explain to your child that sexting is a sexual activity. All sexual acts — including sexting — need consent from a partner. In fact, it's considered abusive and illegal in Australia. If people have seen sexual photos of your child, your child might feel guilty, ashamed and uncomfortable about doing ordinary things like going to school or playing sports. The situation can be humiliating, and your child might feel that their reputation has been damaged.
It can also harm friendships and social networks. Sexting can expose your child to bullying, harassment or abuse. Often girls get more of this kind of bullying, harassment and abuse than boys. This is because many cultures apply different standards to girls and boys in terms of sexuality. Your child also needs your help and support to work through practical solutions to sexting problems. Feelings of sexual shame or regret can lead to depression or even suicidal thoughts in extreme cases. You and your child can get support by contacting ehepace on , Kids Helpline for teens on , or Lifeline on Your child could face jail and be listed on the sexual offenders register.
Also, sexting is illegal in all Australian states and territories, except in Victoria and Tasmania. If your child is involved in sexting and someone reports your child to the police, your child could be charged with distribution or possession of child pornography. This could happen even if your child or someone else taking part in the sexting has consented to it. The police decide whether to charge and prosecute someone depending on the seriousness of the situation.
If the sexting involves harassment or threats, the police are more likely to press charges. Youth Law Australia has details of the laws on sexting in each Australian state and territory.Hot teen sexting
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