‘Sexting,’ Children and Child Pornography

Sydney Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 85-106, 2013

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/22

23 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2014

See all articles by Thomas Crofts

Thomas Crofts

The University of Sydney Law School

Murray Lee

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: March 2, 2014

Abstract

Public, media and political concern has grown in recent years over the practice of children using new media technologies to send or distribute sexually explicit images of themselves or others to their peers, a practice commonly known as ‘sexting.’ Common platforms for such practices include mobile phone messaging and social network sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

This article explores current legal frameworks within Australia which may apply to sexting. Most alarmingly, young people engaging in sexting may fall foul of child pornography laws that are ill designed to deal with such practices and from which age provides little protection. Indeed, young people face being placed on sex offender registers for behaviour they may think of as simply having some fun among friends. The article argues that the existing legislation lacks the capacity to discriminate properly between a broad range of activities with divergent motivations, the presence or absence of consent, and differing levels of potential harm. It concludes by suggesting that the current legislative framework has the potential to produce more harms than many of the practices it seeks to regulate.

Keywords: sexting, young people, child pornography, new technology

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Crofts, Thomas and Lee, Murray, ‘Sexting,’ Children and Child Pornography (March 2, 2014). Sydney Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 85-106, 2013; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 14/22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2403581

Thomas Crofts (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Murray Lee

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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