The Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) is asking young Victorians about sexting. The YAG’s online survey asks about their experience of sexting and seeks young people’s views on whether or not sexting by people under 18 should be illegal and, if so, what the legal consequences for a young person should be.
Sexting is the act of people taking naked or revealing pictures of themselves and sending them to others via mobile phones or the Internet. Some young Victorians convicted of sexting have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
The Victorian Parliament has recently asked the Law Reform Committee to undertake an inquiry into sexting, including “the appropriateness and adequacy of existing laws.” The YAG is developing a submission to the inquiry.
YAG member Hugh Stephens says, “Technology has the ability to greatly affect the lives of young Australians, be it positively or negatively. Youth are now using technology to communicate and be closer to each other than ever before. Sexting is a phenomenon where this communication has significant negative consequences, often beyond the thoughts of the young people involved.”
“Many stakeholders will be coming together to discuss sexting and law reform, and it is vital that we ensure that young people have a place for their experiences and thoughts to be heard to ensure that actions we are taking are effective and relevant,” he explains.
YAG member Marcel Boulet says, “I find the consequences of sexting to be concerning. Young people may find themselves at the mercy of their peers, or in trouble with the authorities. Lawmakers intend to address this issue, and I think that it is vital that the attitudes of Victorian and Australian youth are taken into account. Hopefully this survey will be of use in providing informative data for that decision, so that the response of the law is considered appropriate by both the youth whom it affects, and the community.”
Another YAG member, Megan Glyde says “Mobile phones and webcams are terrific fun. But it seems that sometimes young people who use them for sexting, for example in the privacy of their own homes, may be unknowingly running the risk of running foul of the law. They might think that because both people agree to the photos it’s OK. But it might not be. And when relationships break up or change, a photo or video taken in the past can suddenly find its way to a much larger audience. We want to hear from young people about what they understand so we can help them be better informed. And to inform government.”
The survey can be found here.