By Stephanie Moniz
(ESSEX, ON) – The OPP are reminding parents and caregivers to follow their youth online and on their cell phones. There has been a marked increase in the number of reports involving youth sending sexually explicit images or videos over the internet to peers. This is called self-peer exploitation or sexting.
Teens and parents alike need to understand the long and short term dangers of sending out photographs of themselves. Those who distribute those photos also need to be aware of the criminal ramifications of doing so.
Youth have always struggled to keep up and be accepted by their peers. Young people have been taking provocative pictures of themselves for many years and they are now faced with the added technology that is spreading those images far and wide with a simple mouse click. Police are hearing more and more stories about photos going viral on the internet and peers then re-distributing sexually explicit images and videos as a form of bullying or harassment.
Once the photo or video is out there, you can’t get it back.
When images of persons under the age of 18 are intentionally created and distributed, it could potentially meet the definition of child pornography under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Parents are encouraged to have honest and frank conversations with their children about what self-peer exploitation is and explain that the images can often end up somewhere they may not have intended them to be. Most teens would not want the entire internet to have access to photos of them acting in a sexual or provocative manner. They may regret posting the inappropriate image or the image may be posted by a friend without permission.
Parents can use the following online resources to aid in these discussions:
Parents and youth should not be afraid to contact police should they have any question about a current situation.