TELUS is proud to partner with Cybertip.ca to help keep children safe online. The article below is brought to you by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and offers insight into Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting online sexual exploitation of children.
Fact: teens send intimate images. It’s not enough to say ‘don’t send a nude’ — the reality is it is happening. As adults we don’t have to understand it or like it, but we do have to be prepared to help when a situation has gotten out of hand.
There is nothing new about teens exploring their sexuality – developmentally, it is entirely normal. What IS new over the last few years is the absolute integration of technology into teens’ lives. Kids are now photographed and posted about online before they’re even born – so it’s not a huge step to understand how taking photos and videos becomes part of an intimate relationship.
The problem is when an image is shared without permission. In Canada it is illegal for a person to distribute an intimate image of another person without that person’s consent. Through reports to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, we see this happening right across the country, every single day.
Sometimes we see it when a girl sends a sext to her boyfriend and it gets shared with his friends. Other times, a teen meets someone online – who they think is from another city, for example, but in reality is an offender targeting youth – who convinces them to show themselves naked, captures the image and then threatens to it unless the teen sends more images or money.
These aren’t isolated incidents. Cybertip.ca receives an average of seven direct requests for assistance EVERY WEEK from youth in crisis tied to the non-consensual sharing of a sexual picture, and has more than 2,400 unique visitors every month accessing information online to help youth manage these types of situations.
When a teen is in crisis because an image is being shared, it can be devastating. We have lost too many kids who felt they had nowhere to turn. We need to let teens know that there is help. There is hope.
How can teens get help?
Cybertip.ca has information for teens on how to report to Cybertip.ca or get help over the phone, steps they can take if their image is being shared, and what to do if they are being blackmailed or threatened, and when it’s time to involve a safe adult.
Go to www.cybertip.ca/intimateimages for more information or help, and get the word out to more teens by sharing the site with your online networks.
You can also share these useful TELUS Wise resources:
- Talking to Your Kids about Sexting – Tip sheet
- Help! Someone shared a photo of me without my consent – Tip sheet