Adolescent sexting in schools: criminalisation, policy imperatives, and duty of care

Aaron Schubert, Gerald Wurf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Federal and State Government policies and curricula mandate the uptake of emergent digital technologies within schools. Recent research focusing on the propagation of adolescent-produced sexual images via digital technologies, more commonly known as sexting, highlights the need for an examination of the risks associated with the use of digital technologies in schools. Such a need is particularly pertinent because of recent amendments to statute law which has criminalised aspects of this behaviour. The current study utilised document analysis methods to identify directive statements and themes in relevant, lower secondary school ICT policy and curricular documents. It is argued that the identities of ‘professional teacher’ and ‘problematised adolescent’ that these documents create, place teachers in a position of inequitable risk. A notion of ‘reasonability’ furthers unrealistic accountabilities in the existing standards. Teachers are positioned as having professional knowledge about student behaviour, adolescent development, legislative provisions, and the safe use and application of technologies. In addition, duty of care imposes a legal responsibility upon teachers and school bodies to protect the safety and well-being of their students. Implications of the findings are discussed and a need for improved legal literacy amongst classroom teachers and legislative change is highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-211
Number of pages22
JournalIssues in Educational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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