of Aotearoa New Zealand
Secondary Sexting: A Restorative Framework for Understanding and Addressing the Harms of Sexting Behaviour among Secondary School Students
Emma Wicks' recent Master's Thesis has been published through the Victoria University Research Archives and will soon be made available online.
In New Zealand there is a growing concern over the engagement of teenagers in sexting, especially so-called ‘secondary sexting’, the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. This thesis aims to analyse the behaviour of sexting through a restorative lens and to outline the role of restorative responses can make in a New Zealand context. It combines a review of international literature on the subject with a pilot study of senior students at a New Zealand secondary school, a school that has deemed itself to be a “restorative school”.
The empirical study employs a mixed-methods approach. The quantitative phase involved students (n=125) in Year 11 -13 completing a survey to ascertain the prevalence of sexing and their attitudes towards criminalization of different types of sexting. The qualitative phase involved focus groups with students (n=13), one-on-one interviews with staff (n=7) and parents (n=17) discussing how they would respond to a hypothetical scenario of secondary sexting. The study finds that although only a small percentage of students engaged in secondary sexting, secondary sexting is the cause of significant harm and there is need for an effective response.
This thesis argues that restorative response has the most promise at addressing these harms. It also shows that applying a restorative framework to the analysis of the practice enables us to identify and challenge victim blaming tendencies in both popular opinion and official responses. It proposes that for New Zealand to adequately respond to sexting there needs to be a shift away from viewing secondary sexting as a result of poor choices to one that focuses on respectful relationships and the obligations that go with them.
Prof Chris Marshall
Diana Unwin Chair in Restorative Justice; Victoria University of Wellington
The Ministry of Justice in New Zealand recently released its latest “Restorative Justice Victim Satisfaction Survey” research report. The data was gathered in 2016 from telephone interviews with 329 victims or their representatives from 24 restorative justice providers around the country. Along with reoffending rates (which the Ministry also tracks), victim satisfaction is one of the two most common measures used internationally for gauging the “success” of restorative justice. Whereas the impact on recidivism tends to be variable across studies, victim satisfaction levels are consistently high. This is certainly evident in the MoJ survey.
Founder Rethinking Crime and Punishment.
"Until recently, the major focus for adult restorative justice practise in New Zealand was in the provision of pre-sentence restorative justice (RJ) conferencing. There was however, an exception. Despite the absence of funding, Prison Fellowship New Zealand (PFNZ), with the initial support of the Department of Corrections, facilitated 65 in-prison conferences between 2003 and 2008.1 This is the story of that journey; its processes, issues, highlights and challenges."
Published with permission of the author.
Final publication can be found at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.