Nova Scotia

Police taking intimate image cases more seriously, lawyer says

Six teenagers go on trial Wednesday in Bridgewater for allegedly sharing nude pictures of 20 girls.

Six teens on trial in Bridgewater for allegedly sharing nude pictures of 20 girls

A trial begins today in Bridgewater for six teenagers accused of sharing nude pictures of 20 girls.

A lawyer for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection says law officials are taking the non-consensual sharing of intimate images much more seriously than they did even a few years ago.

Monique St. Germain told CBC's Information Morning it was already known that sexual images of teens were a problem, referring to the case of Amanda Todd.

But police involvement has stepped up in such situations, she said, since the case of Rehtaeh Parsons and a subsequent law making it illegal to share intimate images.

"Police are taking these situations much more seriously than they were," St. Germain said.

Teens on trial 

Six teenagers go on trial Wednesday in Bridgewater for allegedly sharing nude pictures of 20 girls. The teens on trial face child pornography charges, but they are also some of the first people in the country to be charged with the new law prohibiting the sharing of intimate images.

The biggest difference between the two charges is that non-consensual distribution might not be for a sexual reason and usually doesn't involve young children; it could be a picture of someone in a locker room, for example.

"I believe that in the beginning there was a reluctance to use the child pornography laws to deal with this kind of behavior," St. Germain said. 

"We were dealing with young people, and there is a general understanding that young people don't necessarily know what's right and what's wrong — particularly when it comes to things like this."

Youth may need more education about the issue, she said.

Hopes new law brings change

When the new law was being debated before it was passed, many thought it would be a more appropriate charge to use in certain cases, rather than child pornography, St. Germain said.

She said the hope is such behaviour will be curtailed as more people become aware there is a criminal offence tied to it, and there are consequences.