Safeguarding young people from sexting

There has been a rise in the number of sexting cases among young people. Many more young people now have access to phones and social media accounts and are engaging in or are affected by sexting. It is much easier for them to send and receive explicit messages and images.

Young people need to understand what sexting is, sending sexually explicit messages and or suggestive images, such as nudes.

Sexting is illegal among children. If a child is under the age of 18, it is illegal for them to take a nude photo of themselves or a friend, as well as distributing them even though the age of consent is 16 years, the Protection of Children Act means it is against the law for a child to share a sexual image.

Images covered under the law include naked pictures, topless photos of girls, any acts and sexual images in underwear. If a young person is found in possession of any of these, has been sending them or taking these types of photos, the Police can record it as a crime.

One of the most effective ways young people can be safeguarded against sexting is to talk to them about it.

Ensure they know what it is, how dangerous it can be and what the results of engaging in sexting are. This could help them make the right choice. If you do find that your child has been sexting, it is possible to get the images removed by contacting the Internet Watch Foundation, which will search for any explicit photos or videos of your child in order to protect them from possible ramifications.

To see how the Internet Watch Foundation can help, visit their website here:

In the News: A country boy’s story about coming out: self-harm, suicide and Safe Schools

I didn’t even know what “gay” was until I was harassed for having it. Gay boy. Dirty sanchez. Fancy pants. Faggot. Gay, I soon learnt, was undesirable.

My family lived in a town called Waaia, a hamlet near Shepparton, which in 2015 had the lowest average annual income in Victoria (just $27,627). Each weekday, I would travel by bus to and from the larger town of Numurkah to attend a public secondary college.

I was different. Not only was this made clear to me in derogatory terms, but I also knew I was different – in the way I spoke, the way I held my body. These demarcated me. During those years, I didn’t understand why my eyes would move to the shower block at the gym and I was too afraid to ask. And so, before each PE class, I changed in a toilet cubicle, dodging loo paper, puddles of urine and, once, a condom.

The only difference between me and a person who identifies as heterosexual is the people each of us sleeps with

Ten years later, homophobia is still common in Australia. I didn’t feel safe enough to come out until after I’d left rural Victoria, yet to this day I continue to encounter scorn – in the media, from our federal government, on the street – because my eyes are drawn to men.

For the full story:

In the News: Frequently bullied kids ‘twice as likely’ to be depressed at 18

A study of just under 4,000 teenagers in the UK has found that bullying – “victimization by peers” – during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of depression in young adulthood.

The study, published in The BMJ, was led by experimental psychologist Professor Lucy Bowes of the University of Oxford in the UK. It had a longitudinal observational design to examine the relationship between bullying at 13 years of age and depression at 18 years of age. A survey about bullying was completed at the younger age, and a computer-based clinical assessment of depression was completed as the 3,898 participants entered adulthood in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a UK community-based birth cohort. A dose-response relationship was observed between increasing amounts of adolescent bullying and depression in later years:

  • In the group of teenagers who had reported no victimization at all, just over 5% went on to have depression
  • A greater burden of the mental ill health was seen among the teenagers who had reported being bullied at 13 years of age between one and three times in a 6-month period – 7.1% had depression at 18
  • The proportion of depressed people at this age rose to 14.8% in the teenagers who had reported being bullied by their peers more than once a week.

In terms of a comparison against rates of persistent depression – experiencing depressive symptoms for more than 2 years – 10.1% of those who reported frequent victimization said that they suffered this compared with 4.1% of those in the non-victimized group.

Teenagers were more likely to tell someone at home about bullying than someone at school – most teenagers (up to three quarters) reported never telling their teachers about their victimization, whereas as little as a quarter of teenagers reported that they kept quiet at home.

If there was physical bullying such as being hit or beaten up, an adult was told about this by 75% of those affected. The kinds of bullying experienced by the children as they entered the teenage years included:

  • Having personal belongings taken – which affected 16.5% of study participants occasionally (one to three times in total) in a 6-month period
  • Having lies told about them by their peers – 11.4% affected occasionally
  • Being called nasty names – 8.9% were affected by this frequently (over four times in the period) and 8.7% very frequently (more than once a week)
  • Someone hitting or beating up on them – 8.6% occasionally
  • Experiencing their peers not hang around with them as a deliberate means to upset them – 7.3% affected occasionally
  • Being threatened or blackmailed – 7.1% occasionally
  • Being tricked – 6.6% occasionally
  • Being pushed to do something they did not want to do – 6.3% occasionally
  • Having games deliberately spoilt – 3.4% occasionally.

Could bullying be to blame for a third of depression?

The observational study could not establish a definitive relationship between cause and effect, but if bullying does directly lead to depression, the authors say that up to 30% of the condition in early adulthood could be attributable to victimization in earlier teenage years, potentially explaining a “substantial contribution to the overall burden of depression.”

They add that interventions to reduce bullying in schools could have mental health benefits among young adults.

An editorial in the same issue of the journal says that the study “offers clear anti-bullying messages that should be endorsed by parents, school authorities, and practitioners internationally.”

The article, by Maria Ttofi, a lecturer in psychological criminology at the University of Cambridge in the UK, is introduced with the statement that “probably the one thing beyond schoolwork that young people have in common is the need to fit in with their peer group.” She continues:

“When young people do not fit in, things may turn ugly. We have all heard stories of young people being the target of racist, homophobic, or other forms of bullying. Bullying can hamper the psychosocial development of young people.”

This article can be found at: