This week York Police raided a home after receiving a tip about a potential child pornography perpetrator but instead found a young teenage victim who was coerced by unknown people on the net to send self-exploitative images of himself on popular social media sites.
In May 2014, a global hunt for child pornographers and predators dubbed Project Hydra has led to the arrest and prosecution of dozens of individuals worldwide.
But despite global efforts to crack down on child pornography, it continues to thrive and the reason has to do with the ease with which young teenagers can upload and send images of themselves to friends, lovers and other strangers in an instant. Sexting, is the rage among young teens across the world. Thousands of images of young teenagers from Canada and the US are circulating on the web and police are now stressing the need for parents to start educating their children about the dangers of sexting and keep the dialogue going.
In an interview with Can-India, a 16-year-old South Asian who wished not to be named and attends a Mississauga High School said that sexting was fairly common among teens at her school who were dating. “I know two of my friends who chat with their boyfriends late and night and on weekends and since their parents are strict and dating isn’t allowed, they occasionally send pictures of themselves to each other. But they promised to erase them before they went to bed,” she said.
Often times a jilted lover ends up saving and circulating images of his or her ex partner to his friends. Another South Asian girl reported seeing a image of a topless student from another school that was being circulated. While many South Asian parents are quite happy to know that their children aren’t at parties or at a restaurant with friends on a Saturday night, they don’t realize that what they could be upto in the privacy of their rooms could be a lot more dangerous.
According to a 2015 study, Young Canadians in a Wired World, some elementary school children have actually sent sexually explicit pictures of themselves to someone online, 11 per cent of Grade 10 students and about 14 per cent of those in Grade 11 say they have sent a sext. “As students get older, they are more likely to sext,” the guide warns parents. “Many students are unaware of the potential effects and consequences of sexting.”
The new Sex-Ed curriculum incidentally discusses the issue of sexting and warns students early enough of the dangers lurking on the web. Tragically thousands of parents are vehemently opposed to this sort of information.
York Det. Matt Van Wold, one of the lead investigators in Project Hydra says that just as officers have to keep up to date with technology, parents too need to stay updated on information. “The internet is not getting any smaller,” he added.
Tweens and teenagers need to know early enough that sending nude images of themselves or circulating them around is illegal. Then there are the non-legal consequences to contend with like one’s reputation. Having images up online could open up an individual to cyber-bullying and make one’s life a nightmare.