Technically, under current laws, I have sent child porn.
This is because I sent a nude selfie to my girlfriend when I was 17.
It was a poorly-lit bathroom shot and I only showed half my body and it was taken after a long day at university.
I was bored. It was fun and I didn’t think anything of it.
Little did I know, under Australian law, my selfie may have been considered child pornography.
I could have faced a maximum penalty of 15 years jail and be placed on the child sex offenders register.
Keep in mind the image I took was of myself, the recipient was my partner of two years and legally, I was above the age of consent.
So how is I could still be liable?
According to Lawstuff, Australian law defines child pornography as a picture of a young person who is:
- showing their private parts (genitals, anus or breasts);
- posing in a sexual way;
- doing a sexual act; or
- in the presence of someone who is doing a sexual act or pose.
Sexting is loosely defined as the act of taking a nude or partially nude image of yourself and sharing it with others online or through your mobile device.
Sexting can also encompass receiving, forwarding or posting those photos online.
Individuals in NSW can consent to sex and sexting when they turn 16 - however, in the case of sexting, NSW law isn't the only law that applies.
Because when you use the internet or a mobile phone, the national law also applies and under our national law, sexting is illegal for anyone under 18.
This of course was not explained to me at any point during my schooling.
My sexual education classes began and ended with putting a condom on a banana - which is not the best advice for a 17-year-old lesbian.
My real sexual education came from those around me. I sent these images because that's what my friends did and to a large extent, still do.
It's become so normalised that nowadays, the only real shock I feel when I see a story about young girls or boys sending explicit images is that everyone else is shocked.
When I see headlines like: "Teenagers use social media to send explicit images!"
I fail to see how it's news.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry into the sexualisation of young people held this week is looking into the rise of sexual imagery used on social media.
Advocates for legal change argue the current system leaves teenagers exposed to criminal charges for a practice that is socially and culturally normalised.
Youth Action CEO Katie Acheson made a submission to the inquiry that outlined how current laws failed to reflect the needs of the modern generation, ABCNews reports.
"If you're under 16 and you send a picture of yourself to somebody else, it's technically child pornography, because you're under the age of consent." Acheson said.
"So you can be charged with a criminal offence and that's up to 15 years in jail.
"Now that's not what happens, but it's a possibility.
"So the law needs to take into consideration what is consensual activity, what is actually happening rather than viewing it as a criminal act."
Decriminalisation would prevent children from suffering serious penalties for actions they may not see as having legal consequences.
This is a move that has already happened in other states.
In 2014, the laws in Victoria changed so individuals under the age of 18 (and with less than two years age difference) would no longer be found guilty of child pornography and placed on the sex offender registry.
But these are still risks NSW teenagers face.
Modern expressions of sexuality have adapted to modern means of communication and the laws are lagging behind.
Changes must be introduced because when it comes to sexting, these laws don't protect our teens, they criminalise them.
On a lighter note, watch as we share some of the times our sex lives didn't go to plan...