A police officer has spoken out, saying children need to be taught the dangers of sexting and cyber-bullying at a younger age.
As part of her role as youth officer, Senior Constable Barbara Beard conducts safety talks in schools throughout the NSW Hume Police District.
"We are living in a different world with social media," she said.
"We feel now that year seven is too late, we need to get children educated [about sexting] in primary school."
Senior Constable Beard said she regularly conducted sexting and cyber-bullying talks for students in years five and six. She said in the past talks focused on the Keeping You Safe Program, also known as stranger danger, but now focused on social media and mobile phone use.
"You can't delete anything from your phone, you think you've pushed delete but it's out there forever," she said.
"Before you push that send button, think: Could I get into trouble? Would I want my grandmother to see this?
"We have to educate parents and kids."
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With the majority of social media not policed, the senior constable advised parents to keep an close eye on their children's online activity.
"Parents should have the apps their kids have," she said.
"Unfortunately, a kid can google whatever they want.
"I believe kids should have phones, but they should be handed over at night time."
Youth Law Australia advises the following for NSW:
Under national law, it is illegal to make, share, request, access or possess images or recordings that are offensive and show a person under 18 (or show someone who looks like they are under 18) in a sexual way. This includes texts or pictures of children and young people who are:
- posing in a sexual way
- involved in a sexual act
- with someone else who is posing in a sexual way or involved in a sexual act
- showing their private parts.
These sorts of images or videos are also called 'child abuse material'. In NSW, it is a crime to possess, make or share child abuse material that shows a child under the age of 16.
Child abuse material can be photos or videos, but also other images like drawings and even cartoons. It also includes pictures that have been photoshopped or digitally altered to make the person look young or naked.
It's also against the the law for someone who is 18 or over to use a phone or the internet to:
- groom a person who is under 16
- engage in sexual activity with someone who is under 16
- persuade someone who is under 16 to engage in sexual activity with you or someone else.