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If you think that in this day of technological privacy concerns and in the midst of high-profile public conversations about consent and harassment that your child would never send a sext or share one from someone else, we hate to be the ones to break the bad news to you. Just over 40 per cent of Canadian youth age have sent one or more sexts a sexually explicit text or photo sent between mobile phonesand 30 per cent admitted they've shared someone else's sext by showing it to others, forwarding it, or posting it to a public forum, according to a new report.
And 42 per cent of Canadian youth who sent "sexy or nude images" had one shared without their consent, according to the report from the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and MediaSmarts, in partnership with Telus Wise. The sharing of sexually-explicit images can be devastating for the victim — one need only recall the high-profile, tragic suicides of teenagers Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd.
Adolescents who are bullied or cyberbullied are at risk for depression, social anxiety, and suicidethe RCMP said on its website.
But there are also serious consequences for the perpetrators. Ina teenage girl became the first minor in Canada to be convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography related to sexting after sharing explicit messages and photos another teenage girl had sent to the girl's boyfriend, according to Vice. The girl was found guilty because the girl who had sent the messages was also a minor, The Canadian Press reported. Sinceit has been illegal to share intimate images of a person — regardless of their age — without that person's consent, the government of Canada notes.
Anyone convicted could face up to five years in prison, they added.
In some cases, these acts may have played a part in teens taking their own lives," the Government of Canada says on its website. Boys were more likely than girls to have shared a sext, according to the new report, and those who agreed with gender-stereotypical statements such as, "Men should be more interested than women in sex" and, "A woman cannot be truly happy unless she is in a relationship" were more likely to have done so.
The researchers also found that how susceptible youth are to moral disengagement such as believing that sharing sexts is so common that it doesn't really matterin combination with a belief in traditional gender stereotypes contributes to a "culture of sharing" in about a third of youth who see the non-consensual sharing of texts as normal, or even positive, behaviour.
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