Police concerns over sexting epidemic (NEWS)

Posted on August 31, 2011, in Children, Cybersex, News, Relationships, Sexting, Societal, Teens

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Find original article here: http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/news/local/news/general/police-concerns-over-sexting-epidemic/2273540.aspx?storypage=2

LATROBE Valley police are taking an educational approach in a desperate bid to curb the sexting “epidemic” in the region.

Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs primarily between mobile phone users.

Morwell police detective Senior Constable Sarah Miller said the sudden rise in school sexting scandals was the trigger for police to start educative forums.

Snr Const Miller said the “split-second decision” to send explicit images had “lifelong repercussions” and children needed to learn the law.

“Sexting goes hand in hand with what child pornography constitutes,” Snr Const Miller said.

“The law is the law and if it is a naked picture of someone (underage), it is actually child pornography.

“Being convicted, it is mandatory to be put on the sex offenders register.

“It doesn’t say ‘I did something silly when I was 17’, they put you on the same sex offender list as a 40 year-old paedophile.”

She said the repercussions included difficulty travelling overseas because of a criminal record, reduced employment opportunities, a possible seven-year sex offender listing and the long-term “humiliation”.

“Once the images are out there, they are out there, and it is so hard to get them back,” Snr Const Miller said.

“What we are trying to do is educate kids that this quick decision has an everlasting effect.”

The most common reasons images were sent included a “consensual relationship” or “for self-esteem reasons”, however Snr Const Miller said all cases served the same penalties.

She said there had been an alarming number of schools approaching police about incidents where explicit images of students had been sent “virally”, reaching hundreds of children.

The State Government has launched an inquiry into laws surrounding sexting.

Attorney General Robert Clark said sexting could have serious consequences for the young people involved.

“We want the inquiry to examine all aspects of the phenomenon of sexting: its prevalence, its nature, its implications and its consequences,” Mr Clark said.

“The implications of the sex offender register are a key part of what we would expect the inquiry to look at.

“This seems to be an example where the law can apply in a context which was not in mind at the time the law was enacted and which may well be having consequences that the community would not think were appropriate or intended.

“Whether or not there should be sanctions attached to some conduct involved with sexting, and whether those consequences should be the same as those that apply for the sort of conduct at which child pornography legislation was targeted, is an open question.”

Latrobe Valley Magistrate Gippsland regional coordinator Clive Alsop reminded teenagers that “as the law currently stands it is possible for someone involved in sexting to end up being registered as a sex offender”.

He said he often tells students of the “Janet and John week-long romance which turns sour”.

The magistrate said it caused students to look into the long term impact of a “sporadic”decision.

Find original article here: http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/news/local/news/general/police-concerns-over-sexting-epidemic/2273540.aspx?storypage=2

BY ANNABELLE BEALE
29 Aug, 2011
 

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