Parents will be urged to keep an on eye on their kids in a campaign to stop an alarming rise in the number of teenagers involved in 'sexting'.
The New South Wales (NSW) government is set to launch a campaign to warn about the risks of sending sexual images of themselves via mobile phone and posting them on social networking websites.
Sexting involves sending suggestive or sexual images through mobile phones that can then be posted on the Internet or forwarded to other people.
The government has produced a fact sheet for schools, parents and young people to warn about the possible lifetime consequences of the growing practice.
It is urging parents to speak to kids about the issues and to check their social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook sites.
"The easy availability of new technologies and social networking sites can turn what can seem an innocent joke or flirtatious fun into a potentially devastating experience - with young girls most at risk. Sexting can lead to public humiliation, cyber bullying or even sexual assault," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Services Minister Linda Burney as saying.
"There is an urgent need for us to address this issue quickly. I urge parents to warn their children about the consequences of sexting," she added.
She said the Community Services Department had received reports of girls as young as 13 sending sexually explicit images to their boyfriends' mobiles, which are then passed on to their friends.
"Everyone needs to understand that, first and foremost, it is illegal to take sexual photos of children and young people and it is also an offence to pass them on," she said.
"Young people do not often think about the consequences of their actions. What they now think is an innocent joke or just flirting can be very damaging if it falls into the wrong hands," she added.