Generation sext: Queensland Girls forced to share nude selfies

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TEENAGE girls are being pressured or even blackmailed into sending nude selfies.

The federal watchdog tasked with keeping children safe online has reported a fourfold increase in the number of complaints about sexting since July.

Now, 16 per cent of inquiries to the Children’s eSafety Commissioner are related to explicit images.

Acting eSafety Commissioner Andree Wright said young girls were increasingly being coerced into supplying naked or semi-naked photos.

“The age group that seems to be primary target are between 15 and 18, but we do hear from younger people,” she said.

Ms Wright said the commission had dealt with a number of cases in which a person had obtained one photo of a teenage girl and then used that image to blackmail her.

Kerenza Edwards 15, and Rebecca White, 15, spoke to the Courier-Mail about sexting.
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“There is a lot of pressure on girls once they go into those teenage years,” she said. “They don’t think it is fair to be asked for photos but they are not in a position where they feel they can refuse.”

Ms Wright said the commission was able to act quickly to remove images and deal with offenders if photos were of a person under 18.

According to YourTown, the organisation that runs Kids Helpline, almost 40 per cent of calls received about sexting in the second half of 2015 involved coercion.

Vicki Ogilvie, a regional youth support co-ordinator with Education Queensland, said sexting in schools was ­affecting kids as young as 12.

“Our students can find themselves in a legal nightmare because of the distribution of photos sent to them in private,” Ms Ogilvie said.

“This is a regular occurrence in our schools.

“More often than not, the photo that is sent is actually of a student under the age of 16 — in fact we have had some as young as 12 — which means from a police perspective they have every right to charge the person with distributing child exploitation material.”

Writer and anti-pornography advocate Melinda Tankard Reist said she regularly met teens and pre-teens who had been harassed and pressured into sending sexual images of themselves.

“Even younger girls who are 11, 12, and 13, are showing me requests on their phones for images, and they are asking how they say no,” she said.

“I’ve had really young girls telling me shocking stories of threats and blackmail.”

Ms Tankard Reist said of particular concern were boys who appeared to like the non-consensual nature.

“The boys can see a million naked images online,” she said. “What they are getting off on is the lack of consent. That’s the pleasure.”

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