While there are a raft of new laws to protect children following the Royal Commission, the NSW government has introduced a number of new laws that have already taken effect. Following from guidance from the findings of the Royal Commission, sexting between consenting teenagers is no longer a crime. The previous laws left teens who exchanged sexually explicit content open to prosecution for the possession and distribution of “child pornography”. This is no longer the case despite serious cautious on the practice and the potential damage that can come from sharing content or potentially having it stolen. Education still remains very important to teenagers who need to know the potential ramifications of sharing explicit self-produced content.
Sexting Now “Normal”
The NSW government said the “sexting” changes “reflect current understanding about normal sexual development and experimentation among teenagers.” What this now means individuals under the age of 18 who are exchanging sexts with other teens of a “similar age” will not be open to criminal prosecution. If “Sexting” is combined with other activity that can potentially harm a teenager including harassment or violence then serious offences are still being committed. Teenagers themselves are now better protected by the law while other major reforms are introduced to ensure they are protected from dangerous adults.
Welcome New Reforms to Protect Children
One of the newly NSW legislated reforms is a new offence of “grooming a parent or carer” for the purpose of gaining access to a child. Failure to disclose sexual predators or crimes also now carries a very serious offence if not reported. Failing to report known instances of child abuse will carry a maximum sentence of two years behind bars, or five years if a benefit or inducement was given for not reporting the abuse. This applies to any individual regardless of whether they form part of a “organisation” or not.