Young people, Sexting, and the laws you need to know

When we were teenagers, sharing a nude or semi-nude image of ourselves wasn’t even a thing, so it’s no wonder it is incredibly worrying and stressful for many parents.

Research conducted by the Australian Government in 2018 found that 33% of teens aged 12-19 were engaging in some form of sexting activity either with a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or other. We are confident in saying that this figure has risen substantially in the last four years since this research was released, and a more recent study is quoting that up to 70% of tweens and 87% of teens have been exposed to nude images online.

The peer pressure on teens today to fit in and share nudes is unprecedented and is also a double-edged sword in most cases. If they share an intimate image, they are often critiqued for their bodies and judged for sharing, and if they don’t share, they are also evaluated for being boring and considered not ‘worth it’ by their peers or crush.

For a lot of young people, sexting is often fun and consensual. Teens often see sexting as part of building relationships and self-confidence and exploring sexuality, bodies, and their sexual identities.

To most adults, sexting is risky, dangerous, and illegal. Yes, this is the case. There are risks, and teenagers can be pressured into sexting, but it isn’t always simple.

Young people DO worry about their images being shared with other people including friends and family members.

Many try to reduce this risk by making images without their face and send only for people they trust, and with whom they have or hope to have a romantic or intimate relationship. But some teenagers do send sexual images to people they’ve never met.

So what can parents of tweens and teens do?

Discuss this topic with any tween or teen child in your house with a device or phone. We experience that kids discuss these topics and share their experiences around this in the schoolyard way before we think they are old enough to discuss it. Early discussions and open conversations ensure that kids feel safe to discuss it at home with you, and a lot of potential problems are cut-off and dealt with quickly. We always suggest a good place to have these conversations is one on one in the car. They are beside you or behind you and it is less intimidating to a teen rather than sitting across a table face to face.

Young people want to be able to talk openly and honestly with their parents about sexting. But often this is not possible.  If you are a parent, talking with your child is the best way to help them learn about the risks and what to do if something goes wrong.

As parents, we need to talk about what sexting is and what to do if they see or receive a nude or a sexy selfie and the laws around this. What the risks of sexting are. Whether sexting can be part of a respectful relationship. The younger you start talking about this the better.

Here are some questions that can get a conversation going:

Do you know people at school who’ve sent or received nude?

Do they do it for fun or to flirt?

Was it their idea to send the photo, or did someone persuade them to?

What do you know about people sharing sexual images of someone to get revenge?

Do you have any questions about things you’ve heard?

Do you understand the law?

If your child has questions about sexting, try to answer them as honestly and openly as you can. If you have concerns about the risks of sexting, you could explain your concerns and why you’d prefer your child didn’t send sexts.

Once you’ve started talking about sexting with your child, you might find talking gets easier the more you do it.

Get familiar with the law

Make sure your child knows the legalities and laws around sharing intimate images. Please get to know your own state’s legislation and discuss it with your child. For example, even sharing personal photos between two similarly aged children is illegal in all states in Australia until sixteen years old. (or older in some states). We have added all the state laws at the end of this email.

Discuss and explain

Even private messages or messages that seemingly disappear are not private. Screenshots, screen recordings, and forwarding images can happen with a couple of taps on a smartphone. Once an intimate image is shared with someone, there is no way to control what happens to the image once it’s sent. Discuss with them how it might make them feel if a photo of theirs was shared? Empower them to understand that there are laws to protect them from image-based abuse and sextortion should this happen to them. Encourage teens to think about what could happen if they broke up or fell out with someone who had sexual images of them. For example, that person might share sexual images to get revenge. You could also explain that once images are on the internet they can be very difficult to remove. It’s also important to help your child understand the legal consequences of sexting and image-based abuse.

Come up with a plan together

Talk about what they can do or say if they are asked for a nude or have a nude sent to them. By helping them plan for the eventuality of being asked, they can make an informed choice and decision instead of acting under the pressure of the situation.

Explain that sexting is sexual activity. All sexual acts – including sexting – need consent from a partner. (they cannot legally consent under 16yrs). Breaching consent by sharing a sext isn’t respectful or OK. It’s also not OK to share other people’s sexts or to send a nude to someone who hasn’t asked for one. It’s important for teens to know that they have a right to say ‘no’. For example, ‘It’s never OK for someone to pressure you into doing anything sexual, including sending sexual photos of yourself’. It’s also a good idea for teens to practise saying no by just saying, ‘No, I don’t send nudes’.

If young people have seen sexting photos of another teen they might feel guilty, ashamed, and uncomfortable about doing ordinary things like going to school or socialising. The situation can be very humiliating, and their reputation may have been damaged.

It can also harm friendships and social network.

Sexting can expose them to bullying or cyberbullying. For example, when people share images, they might also post nasty comments, attack their reputation, call them names, ask for more images or make other inappropriate demands. Often girls get more of this kind of bullying and criticism than boys. This is because some people apply different standards to girls and boys. This situation can lead to mental health issues like depression and self-harm in extreme cases. We also regularly hear of ASD kids, others with learning disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ kids purposefully targeted.

As scary as the nude and sexting culture is, the reality is that our young people are dealing with it regularly. But as with any issue, education and empowerment is the key to resilience!

To read the “Laws you need to know about” please read the full article here

For more tips and hints, check out the Safe on Social Toolkit. www.safeonsocialtoolkit.com

Access CBRSS Safe on Social resources here

Art Gallery of NSW exhibition of work by Swedish artist, spiritualist and medium Hilma af Klint a ‘wake up call’

Spending time with the paintings of Hilma af Klint feels a little like having the furniture in your psyche gently rearranged.

Her visual language – marked by botanical illustrations, refractions of light and colour, spiralling snail shells and swans, coded letters and colours – tilts at the complexities of the human experience and our place within the cosmos but defies the brain’s attempts to pin down meaning.

It’s not surprising that so many describe viewing the Swedish artist’s paintings as a spiritual or wonder-filled experience.

Writing about her “flabbergasting” work in The New Yorker, art critic Peter Schjeldahl described af Klint’s work as having a “transcendent intensity”.

So why are we only really learning about her now? And why is she having such a profound effect on so many of us?

When af Klint died in 1944, she left behind more than 1,300 paintings and over 26,000 pages of typed and handwritten notebooks – a fraction of which is currently on display in the major exhibition Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

Her work and research was initially withheld from the world at her own behest, but then disregarded by an art establishment not much interested in re-writing the history of early-20th century modernism, particularly to make room for a woman considered more mystic than artist.

This is despite the astonishing fact that af Klint’s earliest abstract works precede the likes of art historical greats (and men) Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich – the so-called ‘fathers of Abstract art’.

But it’s not just af Klint’s art-historical significance, or even her formative experiences as a female artist and spiritualist, that make her so compelling — though these are important facts. It’s that her work and messages continue to feel so utterly contemporary.

Perhaps because she knew she was painting them for us? But we’ll get to that.

Af Klint was born into an aristocratic naval family in Sweden in 1862 and went on to study at Stockholm’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts (one of the first colleges in Europe to accept women, however modest their ambitions for their female students may have been).

Af Klint’s family was supportive of her education, and outside the Academy she was also educated in science, botany, map-making, mathematics and astronomy.

For Sue Cramer, who co-curated the AGNSW exhibition, this evidence of af Klint’s intelligence, curiosity and deep research into the scientific and spiritual discoveries of the time should put paid to any lingering romantic ideas of af Klint as a recluse or quack.

Much has been made of af Klint’s spirituality and work as a medium, but her interests in spiritualism and theosophy were not unusual for the time. It was, historically speaking, a period of genuine wonder, with discoveries such as radioactivity and quantum theory demonstrating the existence of things beyond the visible, while psychoanalysts including Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were also beginning their enquiries into the unconscious mind.

At the same time, “the tenets of civilisation were being greatly questioned in the aftermath of the wars, and she was part of all of that”, says Cramer.

Cramer reflects: “It was a period of intense questioning. And although she [af Klint] was a Christian, she believed in the idea of flexible thinking, and in open-ended truths and inquiry. She didn’t believe in black and white … but in the blending and harmonies of things.”

In 1879, at the age of just 17, af Klint participated in her first spiritualist séance, and two years later claimed to have received her first messages from spiritual beings. In 1896 she founded De Fem (The Five), a spiritual group with four other female artist friends.

De Fem conducted seances, painted, and undertook automatic drawings, claiming to receive messages and predictions from other realms through guides they called “High Masters”.

While af Klint would continue to paint and occasionally exhibit her more traditional portraits and landscapes during this time, Cramer suggests that it was (somewhat ironically) her gender that gave her the space to make her more spiritual works.

“Because she was marginalised, she was forced to work outside the strictures. She found a space through spiritualism where she could realise this extraordinary artistic ability that she had, this vision.

In 1906 af Klint reported receiving a commission from one of the High Masters, called Amaliel, to create a series of works that would become known as The Paintings for the Temple.

By 1915, af Klint had completed a staggering 193 paintings, many of which are included in the AGNSW exhibition.

The exhibition opens with works from the very first series for the Temple, Primordial Chaos, and closes with the three Altarpieces from 1915, which marked the conclusion of the so-called ‘commission’.

Af Klint’s series The Ten Largest, given its own room in the exhibition, is absolutely jaw-dropping. Created in 1907 and painted in bursts of four days at a time, these 10 dazzling and staggeringly large paintings (3 metres high each) meld geometric forms, spiritual diagrams, strange scientific languages, and coded symbols, in arrestingly bright colours.

Af Klint spoke of them as documenting the human life cycle, and they do seem to thrum with a strange life force.

Frustratingly for curious fans and art historians alike, af Klint didn’t write much about the experience of receiving her visions.

Elsewhere, however, af Klint wrote of the spirits standing beside her, and of her disobeying them.

“It has emerged that there was a dialogue between them and that she was very active in her decision to take on this commission that Amaliel offered her,” says Cramer.

“So more has emerged about the complexity of that, which goes hand in hand with her as a really informed person who’s bringing ideas of science and botany, and the religious ideas of her time [to these conversations]. And so, we start to get a much deeper idea of where these works are coming from.”

So much for the origins and intentions of af Klint’s work; but what about where it went?

In 1908, with The Paintings for The Temple already underway, af Klint met Rudolph Steiner, one of the leaders of the Theosophical movement, and showed him some of her work. It’s not known what he said, but many have noted the four-year break af Klint took from Amaliel’s commission shortly after.

Nevertheless, af Klint continued to follow Steiner’s teachings and to paint her more conventional landscapes and portraits, which don’t feature in the exhibition here.

Read the full article by the ABC here

Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings is at the Art Gallery of NSW until September 19.

Read about Hilma af Klint and her connection to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy at reverseritual.com here

Listen to an ABC podcast about Hilma af Klint here

Marlon and the octopus – Marlon is in Class 8 at CBRSS

From The Echo 

Lennox Head’s 13 year old Marlon Denning had an exciting and educational experience during the home-schooling lock-down period in 2020.

Before the Netflix hit My Octopus Teacher came out, Marlon made friends with not one but two octopuses (these were the common species, not the poisonous blue-ringed octopus).

His mother Sharyn Denning told Echonetdaily, ‘He’s got a very unusual affinity with most animals, or really weird animals anyway! Frogs and lizards and snakes.’

Normally Marlon goes to Cape Byron Steiner School, but during lock-down he spent time every day at the ocean rock pools with his mum, who’s an environmental scientist.

Marlon remembers, ‘I just stuck my face in the water with the goggles on, and I looked around and I saw a tentacle and thought, there’s an octopus over there, so I went over to where I saw it, and sure enough there he was.

‘I wriggled my fingers around the water, then he started chasing them around. He chased me back to a shallower part, then he found a little cavern thing, and he hid there.

‘Then he came out and he was swimming around me, and trying to catch my toes and fingers,’ said Marlon.

‘He was there for a week and then one day he wasn’t there. He wasn’t in the same spot for a few days.

‘Then we went back there, and my dad was wading through a slightly deeper part of the pool and then he latched on to his ankle. He grabbed his foot and he screamed!’

Mr Big
When the smaller octopus disappeared for a few days, Marlon made friends with a larger one.

‘That’s when I found the big one you see in the photos that’s touching my hand,’ he said.’That’s Mr Big.’

Marlon’s mum Sharyn says it didn’t take long for her son to build up trust with the normally shy sea creatures.

‘He’s really gentle, so most animals just stay with him for hours, even lizards and things he finds in the garden, he’s a bit unusual like that.

‘He knew that octopus were quite smart, ’cause he reads a lot of nature books. And I’m saying, “Oh it’s not dangerous is it?” He said “no Mum”.

‘They’d just play with him. It was quite incredible really. Then he taught them how to high five, and he knew all their little spots, where they’d be, ’cause this went on for three months.’

‘I had a great time,’ remembers Marlon.

Sadly, he lost contact with his octopus friends after the lockdown period ended.

Sharyn Denning remembers, ‘Then he was back to school, so he could only go on the weekends if the tide was right, so we weren’t there as often.

‘And he hasn’t been able to find them again, so they’ve either moved on or – specially the real big one – that might have just been his life. They only live a year or two. But the little one, he might have just moved on, especially if the tide’s real big, they might use it as an opportunity to move on.

‘But it was really quite incredible, and the really big one, it had an injured tentacle, so over the months we saw it regrowing. That was pretty cool too.’

Octopus art


Marlon still hasn’t seen My Octopus Teacher, but says he’s looking forward to it.

Recently he’s been busy helping artist Austin NITSUA complete a spectacular new mural at the Lennox Skate Park, which has just been finished, and includes an octopus.

‘Yes he said he would put an octopus into the mural after I told him my story,’ said Marlon. ‘There’s tentacles coming out of the waves and kind of touching the hand, which is surfing on the waves.’

Marlon told Echonetdaily he’d like to do something with animals when he’s older. ‘Yeah definitely, I’d love to own a zoo, or work at a zoo.’

Marlon has already been in touch with BBC nature journalist Steve Backshall, and made it to the top ten of Australia Zoo’s nature photo competition for his photo of a frog, out of 6,500 entries.

David Attenborough watch out!

Below is a link to a video shot by Marlon’s mum, Sharyn, showing Marlon with one of the octopuses:

https://youtu.be/cWPDCo8NDdE

Safe on Social

Kirra Pendergast from Safe on social visited the school Monday the 31st of May to talk to HS students and also parents of classes 4-12 in the evening.

Safe on Social Toolkit link

Social Media is viewed by most people as a fun way to share information about themselves, friendships, family and things that happen in their day-to-day lives.

But things can go wrong…

It is important to understand that what you post on social media sites can affect your life both in good ways and bad. The guides available on our website contain detailed information to help parents and students make informed decisions when using various platforms.

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School E-Safety Information 

Instigating downtime with no screens

Story by Caitlin Read from Kidspot.com.au

Caitlin Reid is an accredited practising dietitian, yoga teacher and accredited exercise physiologist from Health & the City.

Kids today are busier than ever with jam-packed schedules containing everything from school and homework to play dates, birthday parties and multiple sporting ventures. Then there are the ever-present lure of screens, which can seem like the perfect option when parents need some peaceful minutes to complete everything from household chores to work calls.

While time lazing on the couch watching Netflix or playing video games might seem like downtime, these activities still require children to be fully engaged. Too much screen-time overstimulates kids instead of giving them the break they need to chill out. So if true downtime does not involve screens, what actually is downtime you ask?

What is downtime?
Downtime is a time to relax and to not do too much. You can think of downtime as simply playtime without any structured activities that involve rules and directions. When play is unstructured, children are free to do what interests them without any guidelines set in place.

Psychologist and teacher at Kid Psychology, Kate Plumb, says downtime is an opportunity for kids to be kids.

“Activities for downtime can be anything that interests your child, gives them the freedom to choose what they want to do and uses the brain and body in different ways. Whatever it is your child chooses to do, the point of downtime is to enhance creativity, imagination, executive functioning and social skills,” explains Plumb.

Things like playing outside, daydreaming, creative play, taking a bath, arts and craft, walking in nature, reading a book and playing a card game are all examples of downtime.

Why do kids need downtime?
While parents have been guilted into thinking that good parenting comes with exposing our children to endless opportunities, this overscheduling can lead to stress and anxiety. Children need time to rest, relax and recharge. Downtime allows your child’s brain the break it needs to consolidate memories, revive focus and renew the drive to learn. Downtime is also vital for all aspects of your child’s development.

“Downtime is vital for your child’s cognitive, academic, social and emotional development. Giving your child the time and space to have downtime enables them to develop self-determination where they express their own wants and needs. Kids develop best if they are free to create, use their imagination and explore the world around them,” says Plumb.

Free time or that feeling of “being bored” also helps children to learn how to manage their feelings. This time teaches children the ability to occupy themselves without relying on others to amuse them, while also giving them the ability to cope with uncomfortable feelings like impatience. Children who are constantly occupied with structured activities don’t have the time to engage in problem-solving like children who experience downtime.

How much downtime do kids need?
A little bit of downtime each day is recommended for all kids. However, exactly how much they need depends on a few things.

“In terms of how much downtime is needed on a daily basis, depends on the age of the child, the amount of structure they already have in their lives and the competing demands of sticking to a routine,” explains Plumb.

“Generally though, the younger the child, the less they need an itinerary of structured activities.”

How to schedule in downtime
Downtime isn’t something that just happens – we need to schedule it in. Creating regular and frequent time for children to unwind is essential for keeping them in balance. Each day set a limit on screen time and encourage your children to spend some time outside each day. You could also set up a special place like a reading corner to encourage relaxation.

Establish a household rule of quiet time before bed where your children can either read a book or draw quietly. This is a great way for the whole family to reduce stimulation and get ready for bed.

As parents, we should lead by example and make downtime a priority. Children tend to mimic the adults around them, so if we want our children to participate in regular downtime, we need to take the time to relax.

“This can be done by organising a relaxing outing as a family, chatting to your child about how much better you feel when you get your own downtime, or even making appointments for downtime if your current schedule is that jam-packed,” explains Plumb.

When you make downtime a priority, you show your little people the importance of having unstructured time each day where they get to take the time to follow their own interests and just be.

It isn’t always easy to protect this downtime so parents need to remain vigilant in making sure their children have space to take a breath and relax. Give yourself and your children permission to enjoy free play each day.

“Play together. Play alone. But make sure you play. Your mental health depends on it,” finishes Plumb.

Visit here kidspot.com.au for references and citations.