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From our desks

Do teens know the crimes they are committing?

A number of articles featured in the media this weekend discussed the very concerning and very prevalent matter of sexting. Reports revealed that young people, mostly girls, and some as young as 12, were increasingly pressured or coerced into taking and sending revealing images of themselves. Obtaining these sorts of images of any person who is under age is a crime. A very worrying feature of this epidemic of digital assault is the lack of insight that young people have that they are in fact committing a very serious crime. What may seem like a harmless act of receiving a revealing image could in fact lead to charges of possessing or distributing child exploitation material. Threatening to use or post that image could lead to charges of extortion. These crimes attract actual periods of imprisonment.

My colleagues and I
see it regularly. We sit across our conference table from scared young men, accompanied by worried parents and hear:
‘But, she was my girlfriend.’
‘I just sent it to a couple of mates.’
‘I got expelled for this.’

Then, it’s our turn
to speak:
‘It’s likely you will get a conviction recorded for this.’
‘That conviction will affect your job prospects.’
‘You may end up on the sex offenders register.’
‘You may go to prison.’

Educating young
people of these dangers is extremely important - educating both those who consider asking for the photos, and those who consider taking the photos of themselves. All young people need to be acutely aware of the dangers of such activity.

With education in
mind, Fisher Dore commence our annual school visits this month. We travel to schools across Queensland providing education sessions to senior high school students. These sessions aim to educate students who are soon to be off into the big bad world, but are still children for the most part. Much of the information we share, as lawyers who act for teenagers, just like them, is met with a wide eyed disbelief (and sometimes followed by a grey dawning of realisation) that sending your mate the photo of your girlfriend is actually a federal offence; that texting your mate to get him to bring something round to the party makes you a drug supplier; that passing out drunk in your car with your keys in your pocket makes you guilty of drink driving, and our list goes on. Hopefully providing education at a young age can open the eyes of young people, and make them stop and think before unknowingly committing a crime, and altering their future path.


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