‘Sexting,’ Children and Child Pornography
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 85-106, 2013
23 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 2, 2014
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: Suggested Citation