What is sexting?

Sexting can be a fun way of flirting and getting to know someone. Sending sexual pics or videos to someone can be an exciting way of expressing and exploring your sexuality, and getting more comfortable with your body. 

Sexting usually involves sharing sexually explicit messages or sexual fantasies to connect with a partner. Intimate photos can be whatever you want them to be, clothed or unclothed. 

What are the risks with sexting?

Most of the time images, messages and/or videos will remain private, however, accidents do happen, and sometimes our private content can end up in the wrong hands.  

This could mean that the sexts we’ve sent or received become way more public than we ever intended or feel comfortable with.

Before sending a sext, ask yourself:
  • Do I want that particular photo or video around forever?
  • How might that person use that photo or video? Are they likely to send it to other people?
  • Could there be any legal consequences…?
Is sexting legal? 

Yes, but it depends on a number of really important factors:

  • Sexting in Australia between consenting adults (18 years+) is generally ok.
  • If you’re under 18 and sending or receiving explicit content, or if either party is under 18, there could be serious legal consequences.
  • Sexting involving individuals under 18 is classified as ‘child pornography’ or an ‘indecent act’, leading to severe legal repercussions.
  • Possessing or distributing child pornography carries significant legal penalties.
  • However, Victoria updated its laws to exclude under 18s from child pornography charges related to sexting. Note: these exemptions don’t apply to images depicting criminal acts like sexual assault.
  • Even if the explicit content is of oneself and you are under 18, it can still lead to criminal charges.

So before you send any sexual images or videos, take a look at Lawstuff for info on the legalities of sexting in your state.

Y’know what’s really sexy? Consent.

Consent is just as important with sexting as it is when thinking about having sex in person. 

Whether you’re sending or receiving sexts, check in with yourself first and make sure you feel 100% comfortable with the situation. 

If the idea of sexting makes you feel worried or uncertain, it’s probably a sign that you aren’t ready yet. 

I feel under pressure to send nudes — is this normal?

No. No one has a right to force you to take part in sexual activities you don’t want to, including sexts.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend is pressuring you to send naked images or videos, remember that if they really liked you, they would respect your wishes. You have a right to say no. Your body, your rules.

If someone is trying to pressure or guilt you into taking and sharing photos of yourself, they are not treating you with respect. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a relationship with the person or not, no one is entitled to images of your body or to keep naked photos of you on their phone or computer.

A phone with the 'messages' section open.
Key things to keep in mind before you send a sext
  • Before you send a sexual image or video, think about how comfortable you really are sharing with another person, even if you have known them for a while.
  • There needs to be a strong feeling of trust between you and your partner.
  • Make sure whoever you are sending your intimate videos or images to knows how important it is that your images are kept safe and private.
  • Once images are made public on the internet, it can be hard to control who sees them, and they can stick around for years after you’ve shared them.
Protect yourself: Be anonymous 

A good way to protect yourself from the risks is to make sure your images aren’t identifiable. This way, if they do end up in the wrong hands you won’t be able to tell that the images are yours. 

You can do this by:

  • Cropping out your face
  • Leaving out any identifiable traits, like jewellery or tattoos
  • Making sure the background is plain and neutral (doesn’t show your bedroom or anything that could link it back to you)
What should I do if someone has sent me a sext?

As the receiver, it’s important to think about whether you are placing any pressure on the other person to send a nude image or video. 

Before asking someone else to send a sext, think about whether they have any hesitations or doubts about sexting. 

It all comes back to consent, and making sure everyone involved is taking part wants to be involved.

Important: If you’ve been drinking or taking drugs, it’s always a good idea to leave the sexting for a time when you’re both sober and can make informed decisions. 

Where to get help
  • If someone sends a sensitive photo or video of you without your consent, it’s a form of sexual abuse sometimes referred to as ‘revenge porn’ and is illegal under new laws.
  • You might have also heard the term ‘unsolicited dick pics’. This is actually a form of technology facilitated sexual abuse and is sometimes referred to as ‘cyberflashing’.
  • If you’ve received an unwanted sexual image, you can report it to the eSafety Commission here.
  • If you’re concerned about images you have sent to someone, talk to someone you trust or a professional such as a school counsellor.
  • For support, you can also call Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
More support services

If you, or someone you know, need help, the following services are available:

If you, or someone you know, need legal support, the following services are available:

If you are feeling unsafe or frightened, or if threats have been made against you, you should contact your local police for assistance and if you are in immediate danger, dial Triple Zero (000).

To report a crime or to contact police in a non-urgent situation, contact your local police on 131 444. Some states and territories offer online and alternative methods of reporting. If you want to report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.CrimeStoppers.com.au.

The Translating and Interpreting Service is available for callers who need translating or interpreting support. To access the service call 13 14 50 and provide them with the name and phone number of the support service you would like to speak with.

For more information on local support services available for people experiencing sexual violence, please visit:

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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