Police were made aware of an incident where two girls, who were under 17 years of age, from St Andrew’s Anglican College at Peregian Springs had allegedly sent naked photographs to a male student, who shared the pictures on social media.
Police were made aware of an incident where two girls, who were under 17 years of age, from St Andrew’s Anglican College at Peregian Springs had allegedly sent naked photographs to a male student, who shared the pictures on social media. Jen Tybell

Sexting teens' naked photos go viral at Coast school

TWO Sunshine Coast teenage girls who sent naked photographs to a male student have become part of a "frightening" trend sweeping through schools.

Police say the problem of "sexting" is widespread among young students at some Sunshine Coast schools, with most unaware of the criminal nature of their actions.

Any digital image, distributed or taken, of a child under the age of 17 is classified as child-exploitation material.

Police were made aware of an incident where two girls, who were under 17 years of age, from St Andrew's Anglican College at Peregian Springs had allegedly sent naked photographs to a male student, who shared the pictures on social media, although no official complaint was made to police.

Child Investigation Unit member Michael Duff said the use of social media to share illegal sexual material was becoming more prevalent at schools.

"This is not just happening at one school, it is happening at multiple schools every week," Const Duff said.

"Education is our only option to stop these things from happening and police and schools are working together to see cyber-safety programs rolled out.

"Most of the time, these young people are not aware they are committing a serious offence and could face criminal charges."

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have been identified as the main smart phone applications used to share racy pictures.

Const Duff said young people wrongly believed they could permanently delete the pictures.

"Once they are on social media, that's it. They are there forever," he said.

"Getting that across is the difficult part and that's where education comes in."

St Andrew's deputy principal Paul Sjogren declined to comment directly on the incident but said the school would discipline any students involved in sharing pornographic images.

"The consequences would be based on an investigation and could include detention or internal suspension, but mostly education," Mr Sjogren said.

"There is an important role parents and the school must play in educating our kids and steering them away from these actions."

Renee Barnes, a social media expert and senior journalism lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said sexting was becoming more common among teens.

"What's needed is education, because these young people don't know the consequences of what they're doing," Ms Barnes said.



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