VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Have you ever caught your child sexting and worried about the consequences?
Our country’s new cyber-bullying law comes into effect on March 9 but there are fears it may not go far enough to protect victims and in fact continue to punish them in certain situations.
It’s a complicated issue that needs lots of discussion, says Lauren Dobson-Hughes, the president of Planned Parenthood in Ottawa, explaining a typical situation.
“A young, usually girl, her photo has been shared without her consent and it has gone around the school and she’s being shamed and bullied and very unhappy because of it. Our stance is she’s done nothing wrong. The people who have shared her photo without her consent are the ones we need to talk to.”
But in that case, the victim could still face child pornography charges.
Last January, a 17-year-old Saanich girl was found guilty of distributing child pornography after she was caught sexting nude photos of her boyfriend’s underage ex-girlfriend.
Dobson says it’s time for parents to accept that sexting is sometimes a fact of teenage life so it’s time to educate kids on the dangers and pit falls of it.
“Sometimes people are a little nervous when they hear sexting. And they want to say ‘don’t do it, don’t do it’ and that is one of the options. And definitely that’s one of the options. But sometimes youth are going to do it. So how can we help them understand the risks and how can they take measures to protect themselves.”
She says it’s better to have that open discussion with kids and be honest about the potential consequences and how to avoid them.
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Schools invite is in. They want us to come in and talk about it because they don’t know how to. Planned Parenthood also offers education for parents to help them address it with their own kids.”
Anyone sexting pictures of underage children is subject to the law and can face child pornography charges.