Digital Life


Sexting laws too harsh, say teenagers

YOUNG people think the penalties for sexting and cyber bullying are too harsh, a survey has found.

The questionnaire of 1000 NSW students aged between 12 and 17 found most believed people under the age of 18 should never be charged with child pornography or put on the sex offender register for peer-to-peer sexting.

They agree that sexting and cyber bullying should be against the law, but believe other penalties would be more effective.

The New Laws/New Voices project was conducted by the Children's Legal Service and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre at the University of NSW.

The survey asked students to share their opinions about criminal law relating to texting and online bullying.

More than two-thirds, or 68.3 per cent, of respondents said knowing certain online behaviour was illegal made them less likely to engage in it.


A similar number (66.3 per cent) believed this also made them feel more confident about being able to deal with these issues.

The Children's Legal Service, the youth arm of Legal Aid, and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre have used the report to make 10 recommendations about providing better education and reforming the laws and penalties associated with online interactions.

''We are dealing with young people who are too afraid to go to police for help for fear of being charged with these very serious offences,'' said the director of the National Childrens and Youth Law Centre, Matthew Keeley. ''Law makers need to take note.''