694.3 'Sexting' and young people: Risk, anxiety and law

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Murray LEE , Law School, University of Sydney, Australia
Thomas CROFTS , Law School, University of Sydney, Australia
Over the past few years, news media in Australia, North America and other Western countries have reported with concern on cases of ‘sexting’ where minors have used digital cameras to manufacture and distribute sexual images of themselves and/or other minors, in some cases falling foul of child pornography laws. Populist responses to this behaviour have ranged from commentators who have called for the decriminalization of ‘sexting’ to others who insist 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. Legal scholars have argued that there should be exceptions in child pornography laws for minors who ‘sext’, although there is a general consensus that teenaged ‘sexting’ is inappropriate and harmful. Risk is central to understanding social concerns about ‘sexting’ where adolescent behaviours become subject to risk logics and childhood sexuality becomes a problem to be managed and controlled. This paper explores the phenomenon of ‘sexting’ from a socio-legal perspective arguing that law in this field is lagging socio-cultural change and has the capacity to have damaging effects on the lives of young people.