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New South Wales schools set to teach students dangers of 'sexting'

August 14, 2011 - Canberra

New South Wales high schools are set to introduce the dangers of 'sexting'- sending racy or distressing texts or emails- into the sexual health curriculum from next year onwards.

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), which is reviewing its sexual health curriculum, has put 'sexting' as the priority topic.

While the 'sexting' term occurs in lessons on cyber safety and digital citizenship, it is not included as a separate chapter in the current curriculum.

"We desperately need a national curriculum to address this issue," quoted researcher Nina Funnell, as saying.

"Schools are taking it upon themselves to teach students about sexting. These programs are often developed on the run by teachers who have been offered little or no training around sexting and who often feel totally unsupported," she added.

Funnell said though the Australian Federal Police and the state government had run programs warning students of the dangers of sexting in the past, they were not upto the mark.

"Programs run by police often focus on legal risks but they tend to totally miss the reasons why teenagers sext in the first place," she said.

"Preaching abstinence by telling teens 'just don't do it' is not an effective solution for generating widespread cultural and behavioural change," she added.

"We do need to include it in education programs so they can make the right choices. There will always be new technologies, new social settings to respond to, but the central message about caring for yourself and caring for others remain the same", ARCSHS Community Liaison and Education Unit Manager Jennifer Walsh said.


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