New research has found around five percent of young New Zealanders have shared a naked image of themselves – a figure that’s rising according to Netsafe.
The online safety watchdog says many of those images are being shared without consent. Netsafe data shows that between May 2020 and April 2021, 66.6 per cent of reports categorised as image-based sexual abuse were made by females. Nearly 45 per cent of reports came from people under the age of 21.
Netsafe’s Martin Cocker says about 30 to 40 per cent of young people know someone who's shared nudes or have been asked to share nudes themselves.
“Four to five per cent say they've personally shared nudes but I'd imagine that number is rising all the time,” he said.
The issue has prompted a campaign by Netsafe and the Classification Office aimed at getting young people talking about the risks and consequences of taking and sharing nude images.
The Classification Office’s youth facilitator Caitlin Wimsett says she spoke to 16 to 19-year-olds as part of the ‘Bare Facts’ campaign, who said the sending and receiving of nude images was a normal part of life.
“One of the things we talked about was unsolicited nudes, they talked about how it made them feel uncomfortable, what we understood from them is it’s not desirable, not something everybody wants, it usually won't go well for the person who sent it.”
“What we heard from them is it’s common, it's widely known amongst young people and they want more information. They want more help with this, they want to talk about it but it is with trusted adults who understand as opposed to coming at them with, ‘it's bad to do this’ without many reasons why.”
Currently, under the Harmful Digital Communications Act it is illegal to share sensitive images without consent, but only if it can be proved it's to cause harm. That could change, with an amendment bill by Labour MP Louisa Wall currently being considered at Parliament.
“It really is to control image-based sexual abuse, this is the non-consensual posting of images or recordings of people in sexual positions," she said.
"What’s happened historically is that the threshold to breach the law is you have to prove the person shared those images with the intention to harm you. My bill takes all of that away and says if you post an image without someone’s consent it is in and of itself harmful.”
Netsafe says if there's an image of you that you want taken offline, it can help.
“The first thing to do if you find out you’ve got images like this floating around being shared is to contact Netsafe. We've set up a system we can have things removed from many places on the internet and assist with stopping it from continuing on.”