Sending nude or sexual pictures or videos is sometimes called sexting. Someone might choose to do this as a way to flirt with the intended receiver who usually keeps the image private.
If both people are over 18 and in a consensual relationship, sexting can be a fun and intimate experience with your partner. However, it involves a lot of trust with your partner and there are a few things to consider before you decide whether sexting is for you, and if so, how to stay safe.
Things to consider:
- Do you know what the laws are around sexting?
- Do you have complete trust that the person you are sending the image to will keep it to themselves?
- What would happen if you broke up with your partner and how would you feel then about that person having a nude or sexual image of you?
- How would you feel if the nude or sexual image was seen by anyone other than the intended receiver?
It’s also important to know that once an image or video is posted online or sent via text, it’s there forever. Even if you delete it, the image stays in the system memory and may be retraced; also, someone may have saved it or forwarded it on before you had deleted it.
Sexting and the law
In Australia, it is not against the law to participate in sexting if the sender and the receiver of the nude or sexual image are both over 18 and consent to the image being sent and received. However, it is considered harassment and a crime to:
- Pass on a nude or sexual image of someone without their permission
- Pressure someone to send you a nude or sexual image of themselves
- Take a nude or sexual image of someone without their consent
- Use a nude or sexual image of someone as a way to threaten or force them to do something they don’t want to do
- Post a nude or sexual image online of someone (e.g. an ex-partner) as a way to humiliate them
- Send a nude or sexual image to someone (or of someone) as joke, prank or to intimidate them
In Australia, a nude or sexual image of someone under the age of 18 is considered child pornography. This means that you could get in some serious legal trouble if:
- You’re under 18 and you send a nude or sexual image
- You receive a nude or sexual image of someone under 18
- You pass on a nude or sexual image of someone under 18
It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities if you’re going to sext. It’s best to think before you sext and never pass on a nude or sexual image.
Who can I talk to?
If you are concerned about your use of sexting or if you have experienced harassment there are people you can talk to:
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Youth Hotline 1800 10 18 10 – for legal advice and information for young people under 18
- eSafety Commissioner for more information to help people stay safe online or to make a report
- Lawmail email service for legal advice and information for people under 25
- Trusted adult e.g. teacher, parent, relative, youth worker – be aware they may feel they need to report any incident to the police
- The police 000 – if the images are being spread without your consent, or if you feel unsafe or threatened