Young people, online pornography and the law
This section refers specifically to pornography and youth. It outlines the law around viewing, producing and
sending pornography and the relationship to sexting.
This section cannot be summarised. It is essential that parents and school read the relevant state and gain an
understanding of the extent of the law that a sexting teen may get themselves into. Most states rely on the
discretion of police for single incidents, but any hint of a threat or element of intimidation will bring down the full
weight of the law on your teen. These incidents are the ones police will and do prosecute under.
A position on the sex offender’s registry is not something any community would wish upon their teen, yet many
are unaware of the legal charges available to victims of this kind of harassment.
It has become increasingly simple for Australian children to access pornographic material online. So easy, that
recent figures show that the age a child is exposed to porn in Australia has dropped to four years old.
It is a problem being debated at a State and Federal level across the country.
There are legal ramifications for teens in some circumstances, and parents need a stern warning – they cannot
simply plead ignorance about both the social media their children use, and their own abilities to navigate and
understand the content their children are accessing. It is shockingly easy for children to come across pornography online which means parents must take an interest in their child’s life online.
Of additional concern is that a number of teenagers are, under law – creating and distributing material that can
be classified as child pornography on a regular basis. Sexting has some unexpected legal consequences that
parents and many teens are simply not aware of, and this is aside from the fact that over 90% of all sexting images will end up on other social media sites.
Compounding the problem in Australia is the disparity between Federal and State laws.
This makes it all the more important that an awareness of what our laws are, and when they apply is taught to
both parents and their children.
Outlined below are the current national and state positions on these matters.
It can be confusing when determining which law applies in which circumstances.
Federal law may apply with the permission of the Attorney General in most states, or depending on the exact
nature of the incident that occurred, it must be remembered that this law takes precedent over the law in each
Generally speaking, in the eyes of Australian law, it is not illegal for someone under the age of 18 to view
pornography personally and in private.(Such videos found online maybe restricted by ACMA (Australian Communication and Media authority). This body focuses around requesting content be removed that breaches ratings legalities, but does not regulate viewers itself.)
In certain circumstances there are exceptions ,and this is where some teens can be in breach of the law.
1. When the material is classified as child exploitation/abuse/pornography – nude and sexual images of an
individual under the age of 18.
2. When pornographic material is sent to other people who are under 18.
3. When pornographic material is shown to others under 18. This applies to your home as well.
4. When pornography is sold to someone under 18.
5. When an individual attends a showing of an 18+ film when they are under 18+.
6. When a school’s enrolment policy, ICT use policy, Wi-Fi or free server has specific rules about content that can be
accessed and pornography is accessed against these standards.
7. Various pornographic sites such as Porn Hub etc have the age requirements specifically listed. By answering the initial question that will appear on the sites around age restrictions with a lie, an individual is breaching the Terms and Conditions of the website. The UK has recently introduced a required credit card age verification system for those accessing porn sites with 18+ content. The Australian eSafety Commissioner is tracking the progress of this new law.
When images viewed cross the line into child exploitation material pornography the rules change.