Teen Sexting – The Not So Secret Sex Life of Kids

Teen sexting: it’s illegal, but it’s in every high school

Adolescent psychologists say with role models, including High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens, involved in naked picture scandals it is easy to see why teens do not understand the dangers of sexting

What is Sexting?

Sexting is the act of people taking naked or revealing pictures of themselves and sending them to others via mobile phones or the internet.

Kids are taking huge risks by sharing nude photos of themselves.

POLICE and schools are struggling to cope with a surge in teenage ”sexting”, forcing senior police to commission guidelines on how to respond to new cases. Almost every Victorian secondary school has been faced with at least one incident involving graphic pictures of students being circulated on mobile phones or the internet, cyber safety experts and teachers have told Fairfax Media.

However, many schools have chosen to handle the matter internally and have not notified police – despite child pornography laws being broken. Teachers have confirmed that in many cases schools prefer to use counsellors and cyber consultants to talk to the students and parents involved rather than contacting police.

When police are called in, lawyers say, there is no consistency in how they handle cases. In some instances teenagers have been warned by police, while others have been charged with child pornography offences.

A Fairfax investigation has also revealed:

■ More girls than boys send sexts, and it is often the girls you would least expect.

■ Authorities have found sexts sent by Victorian teens in international paedophile collections.

■ Some teenagers have two mobile phones and Facebook accounts, one their parents monitor and a secret one.

■ Experts believe sexting is a product of our highly sexualised celebrity culture, in which young women are encouraged to be sexually rapacious.

The explosion in adolescent sexting is the result of teenagers – who have always been risk-takers – owning mobile phones and laptops with cameras, experts say.

With naked pictures of celebrities such as High School Musicalstar Vanessa Hudgens and Paris Hilton in circulation, and pop music advocating risque behaviour, adolescent psychologists say it is no wonder teens do not appreciate the risks of sexting.

”It is a collision between hormones and technology,” said Mandy Ross, a senior cyber safety specialist with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. The organisation has recently been funded by the state government to roll out its eSmart safety program in all state schools.

”There is not a secondary school in Australia that hasn’t had to deal with it,” said Susan McLean, a former Victorian policewoman turned cyber safety expert.

Detective Senior Sergeant Rob Ridley, of the sexual crimes squad, said the surge in sexting had prompted Victoria Police’s online child exploitation team to devise guidelines to help divisional police respond to the phenomenon. The manual should be available by the end of the year.

”We’re certainly seeing more of it [sexting] and what we’re seeing is that the children don’t understand the consequences of it and the parents don’t understand the technology,” Senior Sergeant Ridley said.

A common scenario occurs when teenagers who send naked pictures to each other while in a relationship then break up, and one party forwards the photos to other people.

”Once this image is on the internet, you’ve got to ask yourself who are the type of people who are going to be interested in it, and the obvious answer is paedophiles,” Senior Sergeant Ridley said.

Under Victorian child pornography laws, it is a crime for anyone to transmit or possess naked pictures of a person aged under 18. But recent incidents show that while police have the power to charge or caution those under 18 who transmit sexts of themselves or of their peers, they do not respond consistently.

In one case, a boy and a girl, both 17, from the eastern suburbs made a sex tape and sent it to their friends. Both were charged under child pornography laws, and then given formal police cautions.

In another case, police questioned a 16-year-old girl who sent naked pictures of herself to her 19-year-old boyfriend, but did not charge or caution them.

Few cases have gone to the Children’s Court, indicating schools and police are dealing with sexting themselves. But schools are struggling to cope with the rise in sexting and, with no guidelines, are dealing with it on an ad hoc basis.

Teachers from a range of Melbourne government and private secondary schools have told Fairfax Media they know of cases in which naked or topless photographs of students have been shared throughout a year level or the entire school.

”At the moment everything schools are doing in response to these incidents is pretty random, is uninformed and leaves them wide open to potential litigation,” said Robyn Treyvaud, a former head at Wesley College who now runs a cyber consultancy.

Steven Troeth, a partner at law firm Gaden’s who acts for several of Melbourne’s biggest private schools, said principals were unsure of their obligations and schools needed strong social media policies.

”Occasionally the police do turn up at a school and ask for the school to hand over evidence and I get the phone call saying, ‘What do we do?”’ Mr Troeth said.

Jordana Cohen, a lawyer at the Youthlaw community legal centre, said that when a sext went viral there was confusion as to whether charges should be laid under anti-bullying or sex offence laws and that police were reluctant to investigate Facebook-related crimes.

”As soon as you say ‘Facebook’ they don’t want to know about it,” Ms Cohen said.

”In practice the law is really flimsy in this area.”

Those found guilty of making or possessing child pornography face a 10-year prison sentence and possible registration on the sex offender registry.

At a seminar on social media and the law at a Kew private school last month, of the roughly 40 attendees representing 15 of Melbourne’s leading private schools, less than one-third indicated their school had a social media policy.

Mr Troeth said such policies were crucial to setting out acceptable standards of behaviour for students using social media – even at the weekend – and defining how to respond when the rules were breached.

Ms Treyvaud is piloting the Generation Safe program in two sets of Victorian schools, to develop strategies for dealing with sexting.

The first pilot involves seven Melbourne private schools, including St Michael’s, Brighton Grammar, Strathcona and Carey Grammar; the second takes in government and Catholic schools in regional areas including Loddon, Mallee, Ballarat and Mildura.

The pilot gives schools a framework and strategies to use when they are informed of the existence of a sext involving a student – either as the subject, recipient or transmitter of the image.

The pilot splits responses to sexting into two tiers, one of which can be dealt with in-house by the school but must involve everyone, ”victims, bystanders and offenders”. The second tier refers to more serious incidents and requires police involvement.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/teen-sexting-its-illegal-but-its-in-every-high-school-20110709-1h85a.html#ixzz1bMK2UPnu

The Science of Youthful Aging

THE STEM CELL REVOLUTION is a magazine article about the latest in stem cell technology.

In today’s consumer driven society feeling good on the inside and looking great on the outside seem to be intangibly interlinked whether we like it or not. Ego driven? Maybe, but whatever your thoughts there are reasons to take this seriously if it helps people break the cycle of dis-ease and create positive change.

As a complementary therapist I spend a lot of time empowering people to achieve their goals and love seeing someone excited about the change they have made to their lives. Recently I have also seen how people have responded physically, mentally & emotionally when they feel that they look good so I started to do some research on the mind body links around this phenomenon and during that time came across some amazing products based on Human Stem Cell Technology and Nutrigenomics.

Dr Nathan Newman who is featured in The Stem Cell Revolution article has been involved in some amazing work in the field and has also been working with a company called Jeunesse to develop some facial products based on the technology he developed in this youtube video.


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