Parents must take responsibility for young people using their smartphones, including cracking down on rampant teen sexting, a Catholic education leader says. Source: The Catholic Leader.
“Phones are here to stay so how do we use them properly?” deputy director of the National Catholic Education Commission and executive director for the Federation of Parents and Friends Queensland Carmel Nash said.
“Parents have to play their part in the responsible use of phones. Schools can’t be responsible for everything.”
Sexting – the practice of sending and receiving sexually explicit images or messages – is under close scrutiny after New South Wales last week decriminalised sexting between consenting teenagers.
The legal change is in line with recommendations contained in the final report of the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.
In other states, including Queensland, teenagers who transmit intimate photos of themselves or others still face penalties under child pornography laws.
Sexting has become an increasingly common practice among Australian teens. Research by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner shows nearly one in three children between the ages of 14 and 17 had experiences with sexting during 2016-17.
“Kids make mistakes, as did teenagers forever. It doesn’t make it right, but kids make mistakes,” Mrs Nash said, pointing to a Queensland anti-cyberbullying taskforce report released in October.
The report contains 29 recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the Queensland Government.
They include a call for social media sites to better manage and detect bullying on their platforms and improve weak privacy settings, and the development of various awareness and education campaigns aimed at youth, parents and carers.
One of the most contentious issues surrounds the banning of smartphones in schools. The taskforce leaves the issue to parents and principals to decide.
“Different rules in different schools,” Mrs Nash said. “I mean, some kids use their phones in class for classroom work. Sometimes phones are used in that way.
“It’s about responsible use of the phone, and I think a lot of this stuff (sexting) is happening outside school time, so it’s up to parents. How they manage that is a really tough question.”