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What is sexting?

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  • Sexting is sending or receiving sexual images, videos, words or audio through technology such as a phone, computer, app, email or webcam.
  • The term ‘sexting’ can also be known as ‘sending nudes’ or ‘dick pics’. Sexting might seem harmless, but sexting can be used to bully, blackmail or exploit others. Depending on your age, and the age of the person you're sexting - it can also be illegal. You can read more about the laws of sexting here

How to spot it:


Sexts can involve words, pictures or videos such as: 

  • A message or written post using sexual language.

  • Nude or semi-nude photos/videos.

  • Photos/videos of sexual acts.

  • Screen-captured videos or photos recorded from webcam.

Why do people sext? 

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The reasons why young people sext may differ from person to person:

  •  Young people may send sexual photos, videos or words as part of their relationship.

  • Young people might be pressured to sext by their partner.

  • Young people might sext to flirt with someone or to get compliments from their peers. They may also send it as a joke or on a dare.

  • Young people might send their pictures, videos or audio accidentally.

Thinking about sexting? What are the laws?

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Here are some things to consider if you're thinking about sexting:

  • There are laws around sexting- for people under 18, it is illegal to share or threaten to share intimate images of another person under 18 (even if they consent). It is illegal to posses intimate images of another person under the age of 18 unless you are both under 18, with no more than a 24 month age gap. (Youthlaw)

  • If you and the other person are over 18, there are still laws that apply. Sharing an intimate image of someone else, or threatening to share it, is against the law - and can come with jail time. You can learn more about that from Youthlaw or contact YouthLaw and speak with a lawyer.  

  • Who are you thinking about sexting? How well do you know the person you are deciding to sext? Ask yourself, do I trust them not to share these images/videos? Do I trust them not to blackmail me with these images/videos? Remember that friendships and relationships can change and would you be comfortable with an ex having this image?

  • Keep in mind that it is impossible to control where you images/videos sent online will end up, they may be shared behind your back.

  • If the images do end up online, consider what things this could impact (like future jobs) and that it can be hard to get an image removed once it's online.

  • Do you feel comfortable with it? Trust your gut. If you are feeling anxious or scared about sexting then it may be best not to go through with it.

  • Are you being pressured into it? Keep in mind that it is OK to say no if someone is asking you to send nudes or inappropriate images. 

Sent a sext you regret?

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  • If you have sent someone a sext and you don’t feel comfortable, ask them to delete it so that it isn’t shared further.

  • Talk to an adult you trust about it. You don’t have to go through this on your own. There are also heaps of services where you can get support. Scroll to the bottom of this page for some links.

How to respond to image based abuse:

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Image based abuse is the sharing or threat of sharing personal images such as sexts online:

  • If a sext you have sent has been shared further with others or on social media, untag yourself from any posts and ask for it to be deleted. 

  • Know that the sharing of your personal images is not OK. Don’t be afraid to report it if you feel uncomfortable because when images are sent without your consent, it is not your fault. Scroll to the bottom of this page for some useful links.

  • If the sharer refuses to delete images that have been posted without your consent then it is important to talk about the situation with an adult you trust and/or access one of the support services provided.

How to respond to receiving unwanted sexts:

  • If you are friends or close with the person who has sent you a sext, tell them that you're not comfortable with what they have sent you.

  • Most social media platforms have a report and block option. If you are receiving unwanted sexts block their number, social media accounts and report them

Here are some links to guides about how to block/report people online:

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Instagram - Reporting and Blocking.

Snapchat - Reporting.

Facebook - Reporting 

If your feeling like the unwanted sexting has got out of your hands and you can’t deal with it on your own anymore, talk to an adult you trust or visit one of the links to support services below.

Where to go for support:

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This information page was curated by the young people in the Maroondah Youth Wellbeing Advocates, 2019.