Teenage sexting is no longer a criminal offence in one Australian state – as long as those sharing nude photos or raunchy messages are a ‘similar age’
- Sexting between consenting teens will no longer be a criminal offence in NSW
- Under previous law, teens sharing sexually explicit content could be prosecuted
- Recent research has showed one in four Australian teenagers receive ‘sexts’
- Sexting part of ‘normal sexual development and experimentation’ for teenagers
Sexting between consenting teens is no longer a criminal offence as new NSW laws attempt to keep pace with the modern dating practice.
Prior to the change – to be introduced on Monday – teens who shared sexually explicit content could be prosecuted for the possession and distribution of child pornography.
But recent reports and Royal Commission findings prompted the government to make exceptions to the law for the one in four Australian teenagers who receive ‘sexts’.
Sexting between consenting teens is no longer a criminal offence as new NSW laws attempt to keep pace with the modern dating practice (file photo)
In fact, sexting is part of the ‘normal sexual development and experimentation’ among teenagers, the government said.
The attitude shift reflects the findings from a recent study of 110,000 teens aged between 12 and 17 which found over a quarter engage in the behaviour.
A similar study of Year 10, 11 and 12 students found nearly half had received sexually explicit images from a fellow student and one in four had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves.
The state’s ‘similar age defence’ means teens under the age of 18 who are exchanging sexts with other teens of a ‘similar age’ will not be open to criminal prosecution.
Other protections for teens of similar age have also been implemented for teenagers under the age of 18 who engage in sexual activity including ‘sexual touching’ and intercourse.
Prior to the change – set to take effect on Monday – teens who shared sexually explicit content could be prosecuted for the possession and distribution of child pornography (stock image)
The change is just one of a number of new laws to take effect from Monday on guidance from the findings of the Royal Commission.
A new offence of ‘grooming a parent or carer’ for the purpose of gaining access to a child is also under new legislation.
Additionally, those who fail to report child abuse to authorities will be liable for criminal prosecution and failing to report known instances of child abuse will carry a maximum sentence of two years behind bars, or five years if a benefit or inducement was given for not reporting the abuse.
Those found to have failed to protect a child from abuse can be prosecuted under the new laws which carry a jail term of up to two years.
The new laws will see perpetrators of sexual touching against children under ten facing a maximum penalty of 16 years behind bars and ten years for committing the same offence for a child between the age of 10 and 16.
‘The NSW Government is committed to addressing these shortcomings and has reformed laws to better protect children,’ the state government said.