‘I’ve started going out with my boyfriend a few months ago and he has recently asked me to send a nude photo. I don’t feel comfortable doing this but I don’t want him to break up with me.’ – PETRA
Simply put…. no, no and no.
The Federal laws for child pornography state that it is still illegal for under 18s to take, keep, share or send sexual images (sexting) of someone under 18, including images of themselves, by phone or online. If you break the law you can end up with a criminal record. The penalties for child pornography offences, in particular, can be very serious if you are 18 or over. Besides a possible jail term, you must be registered as a sex offender.
However, state laws may differ depending on where you reside to protect minors from criminal convictions. Some state laws provide a legal exception for children under 18 taking, sharing or keeping nude photographs of themselves and others, particularly if the sexting is consensual.
If you are under 18, it is no longer illegal in some states for you to take or keep sexual photos or videos of yourself or someone else who is under 18, as long as:
- nobody in the photo or video is more than 2 years younger than you;
- the photo or video does not show a crime being committed against someone else; and
- you do not share or distribute the photo or video of someone else who is under 18 or threaten to do so (even if they consent).
While the Crimes Act may have been relaxed to some extent in regards to the taking of intimate photos, it has been strengthened in respect of sharing of such photographs. When a person records or distributes (or threatens to record or distribute) intimate images of another person without their consent, they can be fined $11,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 3 years.
Why sexting is not a good idea
Besides the legal ramifications, there are other reasons why sexting is not a good idea.
- Teen relationships don’t tend to last long so you don’t know where the image will end up once you break up.
- Photos and videos can be forwarded on purpose or accidentally. This takes the control away from you, and who you’re choosing to share with. Once shared, these images can be in cyberspace forever.
- If images of yourself are shared, it may cause terrible embarrassment and consequently affect your mental health.
- Sending nude photos can harm your dignity and reputation and affect future job prospects.
Whatever decision you make you need to remember it’s your body and you get to decide who sees it and not pressured into revealing it.