Dangers of teen sexting focus of awareness project
Schools, police and Alberta Health Services join forces to promote smarter use of social media
Calgary educators and police are trying to raise parental awareness about the dangers of sexting.
Sexting is when people send explicit messages or photos via smartphones over text or social media apps like Snapchat.
Such pictures — and the cyberbullying and humiliation they can give rise to — have been linked to several teen suicides across Canada.
The Calgary Police Service is working with the Calgary Catholic School District, Calgary Board of Education, Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection on the project.
"This is an issue that needs our collective response," said Nancy Lukey, a senior official with learning services at the Calgary Board of Education.
Police in Calgary have investigated more than a dozen cases of teens involved in sexting so far this year, officials said.
But those are only the most extreme cases. There could be many more incidents handled by families, schools and health workers, officials said.
Police said laying criminal charges is often difficult.
"These cases are often complex investigations; however, many of them are less about the ability to charge someone with a criminal offence, and more about education, prevention and providing the right resources for victims," said Acting Insp. Mike Bossley.
Many young people don’t think ahead about the consequences of sexting, said Debbie Molloy, a mental health manager with Alberta Health Services.
"Even if these sexts are deleted, you never know where sexually explicit messages, images or video will end up. This can emotionally impact young people now, as well as later in life," she said.