Court worries about teen 'sexting'

A MACKAY teenager has escaped prosecution for possessing a photo of a topless 15-year-old girl on his mobile phone.

The 17-year-old faced being branded as a registered child sex offender for up to 20 years and his adult life could have been ruined by possessing the photo.

The “sexting” trend is increasing and authorities are warning teenagers of its dangers, because any images can go viral and be spread around the world with no one able to stop them.

The teen was in a car, which was stopped by Mackay police in June this year. Police asked to check his mobile phone and found the image. He was charged with possessing child exploitation material.

The teen, who claimed he thought the girl was 16, kept it on his phone, did not show anyone else and didn't send it to anyone else, Mr Campbell said.

The law defines child exploitation material as material “in a sexual context” which is “likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult” and which involves a person “apparently under 16”.

Magistrate Damien Dwyer threw out the police case because he said there was nothing in the photo that would lead a reasonable adult to believe the girl was “apparently under 16”.

Authorities say it is impossible to know how many teenagers are “sexting”.



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