Upcoming seminar ‘​Sexting: criminalisation of childhood sexuality’

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Date(s) - 15 Nov 2012
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

PSI Library, L10, Menzies Bldg

Thomas Crofts, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney.

‘Sexting’,  where minors have used digital cameras to manufacture and distribute naked or sexual images of themselves and/or other minors, is only one example of the ways in which new technologies have become a feature of contemporary sexual expression for young people as well as for adults. The accompanying risks and pleasures pose a challenge to legislative frameworks and social norms and values. New technologies and social networking websites have considerable benefits for young people, and can provide a relatively safe space for them to explore questions in relation to sexual practice and identity. However, these technologies can facilitate new forms of harmful behaviour, such as ‘cyber-bullying’ and the malicious distribution of ‘sexts’. While the creation and dissemination of sexually explicit material is not a new issue the increasing and innovative use of new technologies and networks to create and disseminate explicit material presents a growing legal, social and policy challenge. In recent years news media in Australia, North America and other Western countries have reported with concern on cases of ‘sexting’. In some cases young people have fallen foul of child pornography laws, which in Australia have recently been strengthened to address concern over the impact that new technologies are having on the creation and distribution of sexualised images of children. Responses to this behaviour have ranged from calls for the decriminalization of ‘sexting’ to insistence that ‘sexting’ should be considered a form of child pornography – a position that connects to broader social concerns and anxieties about childhood sexual behaviours and exploitation. This seminar explores the phenomenon of ‘sexting’ from a socio-legal perspective arguing that law in this field is lagging socio-cultural change and that the criminalization approach is insufficiently nuanced to address the varieties of behaviour that may fall under the label of ‘sexting’.

Thomas Crofts is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of Criminology in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney.