'Sexting'growing issue for Kiwi teens

An increasing number of New Zealand teenagers are seeking help when relationship breakups lead to "sexting" material going viral.

Cybersafety organisation Netsafe is reporting a rise in incidents where videos and photographs containing personal sexual content are sent into cyberspace after a relationship breakup, including "handfuls" of teenagers each month.

It aligns with new research that found sexting was increasing among 14 to 19-year-old American teenagers, indicating a higher prevalence of sexual activity in their offline lives.

Researchers at the University of Texas medical branch found that nearly 30 per cent of US teenagers had sent nude photos via email or text, and 57 per cent had been asked to.

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker said New Zealand's statistics would be similar, with sexting usually starting when teenagers became sexually active.

"It is certainly going on."

A "handful" of the sexting cases reported to Netsafe each month involved teenagers and were usually reported when a relationship had gone bad, and sexual material taken or received during the relationship was distributed among a wider audience.

"It is not so much the creation that's the issue, it's the later distribution of it. Unfortunately that happens a lot."

Netsafe offered advice and support. But most often the distributed files could not be entirely deleted from cyberspace, he said.

The Law Commission has sought public opinion on potential digital issues. It received more than 70 submissions and was preparing a final report and recommendations for the Government by the end of the year.

The Dominion Post