AUSTRALIAN kids as young as 11 are being caught up in the revenge porn and sextortion epidemic with investigators receiving complaints relating to the pre-teens.
News Corp Australia can also for the first time reveal the full extent of the issue among our youth, with 1 in 4 teens aged 14 to 17 experiencing at least one sexting/sextortion/revenge porn behaviour in the past 12 months.
The first national research, commissioned by Office of the eSafety Commissioner, into the danger our kids are putting themselves in online has shown teenage girls are three times more likely than boys to be asked for a nude image and Snapchat is the platform of choice for the abuse with 62 per cent of cases occurring on the platform.
This was followed by Facebook/Messenger at 39 per cent and SMS/MMS at 16 per cent.
Alarmingly, the research conducted by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner showed half of all teens who were asked for a nude picture said the request came from a stranger.
The research, which involved 1424 teens aged 14 - 17 years, was done in conjunction with New Zealand and the UK who are also finding similar levels of sexting among their teens.
Interestingly across all countries around 90 per cent of young people perceived that others their age were engaging in sexting.
The age of kids engaging in sexting/revenge porn behaviour on their devices is also lowering with several local cases being detailed to News Corp Australia.
In one case an 11-year-old girl sent a naked image via Snapchat to a 13-year-old boy at her school.
The image was saved and then shared around the school and a fake Instagram account was set up to shame the girl.
A 14-year-old also recently reached out for help after she sent naked pictures to a stranger in India.
She stopped sending images when her parents found out. But the stranger - an alleged 15-year- old male - said if she didn't send more photos he'd send it to all her friends.
A young woman also recently contacted investigators to say that when she was 14 she made an online blog and put suggestive photos on there to become popular.
She began getting blackmailed and threatened by 'fans' and removed the blog.
However, she soon found out that the images she had posted had been copied and shared on numerous sex sites and the images "ruined her life".
Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner said young people often didn't fully understand the repercussions of what they were posting online.
"While young people are navigating smartphones and technology better than some adults, they're not yet able to fully comprehend the long-term implications of their online actions," she said.
"As the exchanging of intimate images continues to become a more 'normalised behaviour' among young people, we need to be educating about the risks of sending and sharing this material, and how to manage these risks."
Matthew Warren, professor of cyber security and deputy director of Deakin University's Centre for Cyber Security Research, said social media companies should take more responsibility to help teens understand the risks of posting a suggestive photo every time they get behind a keyboard.
"They do have a social responsibility but to be honest they've just put it in the too hard basket," Professor Warren said.
Rose Cantali, education and developmental psychologist with Psych Matters, said she had seen an increase in the number of referrals relating to sexting among teens.
Dr Cantali said she saw a 12-year-old girl last week who had been posting naked shots of herself to one person who turned out to be older than she thought he was.
"I'm seeing around three or four new referrals a month and where in the past I might have seen only one," Dr Cantali said.
"The main concern to young children is to be accepted which is why they are engaging in this behaviour."
Kimberley O'Brien psychologist with Quirky Kid said it was important to take the victim-blaming out of this behaviour among youth.
"If parents are talking about sexting they need to have sympathy for the victims too," Dr O'Brien said.
"Lets move away from that and let's focus on catching the perpetrators of this and make the internet a safer place for younger people."
• 1 in 4 teens have experienced at least one sexting behaviour in the past 12 months
• Teenage girls are 3 times more likely than boys to be asked for a nude image - 21 per cent vs. 8 per cent
• Teenage girls are also significantly more likely to receive nude or semi-nude images/videos they did not ask for - 18 per cent for girls vs. 11 per cent for boys
• Of those teens who were asked for a nude, 49 per cent said the request was from someone they didn't know
• Snapchat was the most common platform for sharing nude or semi-nude images/videos. A total of 62 per cent of teens who had sent or received a sext did so via Snapchat.
• Other platforms included Facebook/Messenger - 39 per cent, SMS/MMS - 16 per cent, Instagram - 15 per cent, WhatsApp 9 per cent, KiK and Skype 7 per cent respectively
* Respondents included 1424 teens aged 14 - 17 years
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