IT'S a phenomenon sweeping the globe but the consequences have the potential to ruin young lives in countless ways. More and more teenagers are engaging in the trend of "naked selfies" and sending explicit photos of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends, without a real consideration for where it could lead.
The disastrous consequences of such behaviour can include embarrassment, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts but many don't realise they could also find themselves behind bars.
Warwick police officer-in-charge Stewart Day said the exchange of naked selfies among teens was a growing trend that could land participants before the courts.
"Those under the age of 16 who are involved in sending naked pictures can find themselves dealt with for distribution and possession of child pornography," he warned.
"Even if the photo they are sending is of themselves, that is distributing child pornography and, of course, the person who receives it is receiving child pornography."
Snr Sgt Day said the popularity of selfies had been steadily increasing over past years and he urged teenagers to think twice before sending these types of images to anyone.
"I think the rule of thumb for putting something on social media, sending it via webcam or picture message is to think 'would you want your mother to see it?'
"If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn't do it," he said.
Snr Sgt Day said he regularly spoke to teenagers who had been victimised when a supposedly private picture or video went public.
"What we see a lot is teenagers who are involved in a relationship, which then sours and the party that is upset by the breakdown publishes the photos that were meant to stay between the couple," he said.
"Victims who come in to see us are very upset because it is a big betrayal of trust.
"And it is embarrassing for them to know their images are out there.
"Once a photo has been put on the internet or forwarded to another person you don't have any control over it and it could end up anywhere."
The warning comes as part of a state-wide police campaign, called "Your Selfie: Keep It to Yourself".
Police Minister Jack Dempsey launched the campaign and said it was about highlighting how easily a photo could end up in the wrong hands.
"The project is not about scaring children but equipping them with the knowledge to allow them to protect themselves online," Mr Dempsey said.
"Just a few years ago we used to have to worry about who's talking to our kids on the street.
"With social media we have to worry about who our children are speaking to in our own homes."
An e-book called Who's Chatting to Your Kids is available for download at http://www.police.qld.gov.au.
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