How should we teach kids about the dangers of sexting?

Two parents in British Columbia have been charged with assault for hitting their 14-year-old daughter after she sent a nude image of herself to her boyfriend. What do you think is the proper way to teach kids about the dangers of sexting?

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  • Good morning/afternoon, welcome to the latest CBC Forum.
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  • Today we're talking about sexting amongst young people. How do we teach our kids about the dangers of the practice?
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  • A Canadian judge recently ruled that hitting your teen isn't the proper approach.

    Parents convicted of assault for 'spanking' teen daughter over nude Snapchat photo

    A religious couple in Salmon Arm, B.C., have been convicted of assault for "spanking" their daughter with a mini hockey stick and a skipping rope after learning she had sent nude photos of herself to her boyfriend on Snapchat.

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  • But the judge also wrote: "In this day and age, any reasonable parent would be concerned about a teenager sending nude pictures of him or herself via a cellphone or any other electronic device. The pitfalls and dangers of such activities are well-reported. Such behaviours can lead to bullying and even suicide."
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  • Which leads us to today's discussion: How should we teach kids about the dangers of sexting?
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  • in our home we have taken away the ipad also changed the password to internet. not sure it is enough though. certainly the removal of technology gets her attention tho
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  • First and foremost: Allow parents to discipline their children and do not allow the Gov't to interfere in this unless it's actual abuse.

    My parents used the belt and I'm still alive and well today.

    Besides, photos of this that are posted on the Internet typically remain there indefinitely, and the last thing that anyone needs is for these to somehow become public. That would be even worse than taking a few smacks to the bottom.

    Also this case reminds me of this: www.wthr.com
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  • From the article: "The pitfalls and dangers of such activities are well-reported. Such behaviours can lead to bullying and even suicide."
    Why haven't you said what the dangers ARE in your article? Do you not know?mettamuditaat 1:42 PM

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  • You take some time to figure out what the actual dangers of sexting are (as in, do some journalism), and then you tell people what you learned. You give them the information, with evidence. That's it.mettamuditaat 1:43 PM

    "Bullying and suicide" are not the dangers of sexting any more than they're the dangers of going to school and having social interactions. If "bullying and suicide" are reason not to sext, they're also reason to homeschool. To live in a box, actually.mettamuditaat 1:46 PM

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  • Hi, mettamudita. We've done lots of journalism on the topic:

    Sexting another back-to-school concern for parents, expert says

    It's back-to-school season and that's a good time for parents to start thinking about their kids and sexting, cyberbullying expert Brian Trainor says.

    Children and smart phones; how young is too young?

    How young is too young for a smartphone? 8, 9, 10 years old? Or do they have to be a teenager? As many parents struggle with this decision, data suggests the age at which children are getting their own cell phone is getting younger by the year.

    Sexting B.C. teen tells court: 'This is not who I am'

    A B.C. teenager who was found guilty of child pornography charges after "sexting" naked images of her boyfriend's former girlfriend has been handed a six-month conditional discharge.

    How to get some perspective before talking to teens about sexting

    Parents and principals are struggling with how to deal with sexting in an increasingly wired world. Experts say a focus on enforcement is detracting from a much-needed conversation about teenage privacy.

    Sexting: What the dangers are and how to manage them

    One in five high school students surveyed say they received a sext of someone that was forwarded to them by someone else, according to a new survey. And seeking porn online is on the rise.


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  • Even a 14-year-old? Older?
    The best way is to teach them about self respect. . . .and a good spanking!Deezat 1:47 PM

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  • Taking away things won't work.Children will find a way if they think the parents are wrong and old fashioned. The child has to understand the repercussions of what they are doing. If you've always been open and told them the truth it will be easier to warn them and have a frank discussion with them. If not explaining the seriousness of their actions in a loving manner is the best way to go.
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  • Easy, don't give them cell phones. A roll of quarters is all they need.
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  • If you've already "done lots of journalsm," why ask this question and hold this forum? Just give them the information, because if they're not listening to you, it means they don't believe you. Enough of your fauxtroversy.
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  • Best your kids. Seriously. Not abusively. Obviously. My parents taught me that way growing up. Old school European. With the hand or a belt. All my friends who never got beat growing up are irresponsible and lazy. I grew up to be a responsible individual, taught me that my actions have consequences. I see a lot of soft parents out there who let their kids get away with murder. Your not doing your kids any favors. If anything your screwing your kid up.
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  • Hi, TheTruth. In Canada, there's a problem with this approach. 

    From Jason Proctor's story about the Snapchat verdict, where the parents were convicted of assault.

    "As far as discipline is concerned, the Supreme Court has set out considerations whereby "corrective force" is deemed reasonable as opposed to assault: It must be intended for educative or corrective purposes, and the force has to be reasonable under the circumstances.

    The law generally accepts that those rules don't apply to corporal punishment used on children under two or teenagers."

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  • Discipline your children enough to navigate through the no-man's land of technology and the Internet. Teach them how it's different from real life and that you can endanger yourself by giving too much away. Finally, teach them self-restraint and to not do what they don't like or is dangerous.
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  • Maybe parents need to turn the tables and ask their children what they think the outcome would be if they, the parents were to have similar photos floating around out there in cyberspace. Have a conversation and let it sink in that someday they will have to face the same consequences.
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  • How do the Europeans deal with this trend/problem/whatever?
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  • A “Harry Potter” movie has cautions because of violence & sexual content. But children are exposed openly & with no warnings to reality shows, news, other movies & advertisements that are blatantly shallow & display lifestyles that are filled with people with just money & stuff, who have no feelings & do not display any responsibility nor respect towards just life & love, even with each other.
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  • In my opinion, there's no need to focus specifically on sexting. If you make an effort to teach your children about cause and effect, and consequences of action at a young age, they will naturally apply that knowledge to "sexting." It's kind of a no-brainer, really. Worst case scenario? They learn the hard way. It's not the life-ending event that people seem to make it out to be. What a strange world.
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  • Some kids would consider sex texting fun and games. Part of growing up. It is only an issue when everybody overreacts. It is a crime at 17 years and below and suddenly becomes in vogue at 18. .I am more concerned about the parents reaction, than any sex activity.Also the religious aspect complicates the matter with further nonsense.Much ado about nothing

    Durgan
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  • The whole message about respect yourself and respect others needs a major social media campaign to educate and impact these kids. Parental influence can be minimal on these issues and there is little chance the parent child relationship will be enhanced by taking phones or beating kids. Commercials depicting someone altering received photos or betraying friends by getting paid to share them is the only thing that kids can relate to if they haven't thought of the implications...and kids need to be part of the message design process.
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  • I was leaving but one more thing: Hitting kids isn't any more permissible than hitting adults. Kids aren't less human than adults, and if you hit them you should be legally charged. The only thing I learned from my parents beating me as a teen is that they're bad people. They are no longer in my life. If you want your kids to even speak to you as adults, think twice about assault and battery.
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  • There is a longer comment than many posts, but the topic deserves a thorough response.

    The research evidence, from government to non-profits, has shown time and time again that peer-to-peer support (so youth helping youth) with trustworthy and compassionate adults as mediators, is crucial to any long-term success with prevention programs.

    Punishment is different than accountability. Punishment's impact is to instill fear and often shame a person for a particular behaviour, often without trying to understand why the person did it. Punishment results in short-term compliance out of fear of repercussions. This is not long lasting and often a youth figures out a way to 'not get caught' or takes on other harmful behaviour, such as cutting oneself, missing school, isolating, or even running away from home. All of these can cause greater harm than the initial act.

    Accountability and empathy is giving a youth room to own up to their behaviour, discuss why they did it, create alternatives to the behaviour, and following up with them periodically to see how it's going. It's about support. For example, if they shared a picture to get sexual attention, to appear 'cool' - the discussion would be about finding alternative ways to feel accepted and wanted that do not cause them harm. Often it's a matter of exploring how to get a need met in a healthy way.

    Violence could also be involved and punishment tells the person it's their fault that they are targeted. A person could of been drugged and forced to take the photo. There could of been threats involved. It could be an adult asking for naked pictures, a person in a position of authority. Without asking, it's hard to get an accurate account of the situation.

    The youth is probably afraid enough, no need to make them more scared.
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  • Sexting, in a lot of ways, is symptomatic of a larger problem. The educational focus should be on teaching children and young adults self respect generally, rather than sexting specifically. There are a lot of reasons why teenagers in particular feel the need to commoditize their own body, not the least of which is incredible social pressure that sexy = valuable. This, of course, is a broad social problem and requires a broad social reaction. To focus solely on sexting is to miss the forest for the trees.
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  • The proper way to teach kids about anything is with intelligent informed guidance, and true respect for their person. If children have been raised with corporal punishment, a president is set. If the bar has been set at corporal punishment, it becomes the norm for that child. If a child has been treated with respect, and has been guided in nonviolent means of conflict resolution, it is rarely necessary to bash them about. Parents who resort to corporal punishment are really lashing out in frustration and anger, because they don't know how else to get their point across. By lashing out physically, children see their parents out of control and losing it. No wonder such children have little respect for their parents. The parents in this article went nuts on their kid. The sentence is appropriate.
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  • It is always best for parents to be honest and straight forward when dealing with their children. I can only speak from experience as a Mom of 2 sons.
    An example is when HIV/Aids became prevalent my sons were in their teens. I was terrified and so I not only talked to them about it but gave them articles to read so that they understood the importance of wearing a condom when having sex (which I didn't promote but heck, you can't always stop it).
    So perhaps parents should explain the consequences of sexting to their children in blunt straight forward facts.
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  • For thousands of years parents seemed to know how to raise their children. Its only in the last seventyfive years that the parents are getting stupid and the government, judges, professors, teachers are finding the proper methods to raise the young. How is it working for us??
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  • I remember a lime when linking two computers to one another consisted of putting suckers on your phone so I have been around the internet since its birth. I have always considered the Internet to be akin to a large virtual city with setts and plazas and parks and that you behaviour and what you post should be reflected by that concept. You would not go naked on your city streets and you would not engage in intimate conversations with total strangers. If you apply these sensible principles and teach them to your children it would go a long way in avoiding embarrassing and potentially dangerous behaviour. It's a simple enough concept that you and your children can grasp . Is my child old enough to be out on the street without my supervision ? Is my child behaving in a socially acceptable way ? Is my child trustworthy ? Polite ? Honest ? Once you have answered these question and have had " the conversation " with your kids trust them to do the right thing. Denying them access is a losing battle and thinking that you can control 100% of their online activity is futile. Good luck !
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  • I'll suggest that its a little too late for a spanking, if she's sending nude photos.
    Just say'in...
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  • So is the kid going to be charged with distributing child pornography?Chiliat 2:52 PM

    Here's an excerpt from the story below:

    "In Canada, a 2001 ruling by the Supreme Court established what's known as the intimate photo exception. 

    Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin stated that if the photo or video was taken by one of the people involved, and if it was consensual and kept private, then the image is not considered child pornography. 

    The images in question would show teenagers under 18 years old but over the age of consent, which ranges from 12 to 16, depending on their partner's age."

    The fine line between 'sexting' and child pornography

    Minors who text or post explicit photos of themselves or their friends can face child pornography charges — but legal experts are asking whether the Criminal Code and child pornography laws are the way to deal with this kind of behaviour.


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  • I have two tween girls. If I am telling teaching them something, I speak from a person to person perspective. I present facts, "play the tape through to the end", and explain possible ramifications of actions. Although they are not adults and I don't treat them as such, my kids are capable of understanding language and they appreciate me as a source of truth and guidance in their lives.

    Also very importantly, they don't fear me. They know they can come to me with issues and seek advice, as opposed to a lecture. There is give and take discussion that goes on. We walk through the problem. We discuss eventualities.

    An analogy that I guess I could use is ship building. I helped build the ship and maybe did a little programming of the navigation system but they are the ones piloting the boat. I hope I am giving them the ability to think critically and thoughtfully. In the end that is all I can do.

    And I sure as heck won't be beating them up if they don't walk in lockstep to "my rule".
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  • These parents are seriously out of touch. This is what kids do now, and probably would have done 1000 years ago too had cell phones been available. Discussions need to focus on the fact that once those pictures are out there, no matter how much you trust the person you sent them to, there is a very good chance they will be re-distrbuted publicly. And then we need to stop shaming women for wanting to share their bodies. I have a daughter, and I don't think her value as a person is determined by how many people have seen her naked.
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  • I got spanked as a kid. I knew what I did was wrong and I was punished for it. It was called consequences for my actions. I did not, never did, fear my parents. I respected them and still do.
    Big difference between spankings and beatings.
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  • Anyone that produces pornographic images of minors needs to be charged with distributing child pornography. Full stop. "Selfies" should definitely not be a defense!
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  • Parents are going to have a reasonable conversation with a teen that sends nude pictures of herself / himself over the internet?
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  • Tough question.

    I remember when I was 10, looking at playboys and Internet smut. It was fairly tame. Now that I have a son approaching 10, I think about the content that is easily and readily accessible on the Internet. A lot of it isn't just distasteful, it's downright disturbing and I don't want my kids exposed to that kind of content. But as a parent I can only shield them from so much. Society seems fine with woman selling their bodies for money, so long as it's documented and made as accessible to the general public as possible. Selling yourself privately is taboo though.

    I think our culture has become over sexulized, look how woman are almost always portrayed in media. Look how virgins and people who try to wait for the right person are shamed. Look how woman aspire to be as slutty as their male counterparts, as if that is something to apire to. I don't respect people who use others solely as a sexual conquest, to add another notch in the belt. Even marriage is deemed old fashioned. I believe trying to carve out a living with another person is a very human thing. While trying to hump as many people as you can makes you more akin to an animal.

    Is anyone really surprised that young woman and girls are peeling their clothes off to take nude photos of themselves?

    I think the solution lies in looking at our values as a society because I feel like Woman are being valued as sexual objects more and more by society and that has become the norm.

    Random though, by a guy
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  • If you see an argument you don't agree with, please respond to the argument rather than attacking the arguer. Had to reject a few of those just now.
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  • Lunch time. I'll be back in 30. The conversation is still open, so feel free to send your comments. I'll sort through them when I get back.
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  • Sexting is only a part of the equation - if you have open communication and teach your kids to be responsible and ethical and to stand up for what they believe in, then texting will not be a major issue
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  • These are the dangers of living in these last days. Also why I'm personally reluctant o have kids. Nearly impossible to shield them from the evil out there. Parents should not only tell their children what not to do, they must also clearly explain WHY. Should the government be involved in these types of issues though?
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  • I am East Indian, so don't get offended on my behalf, Miss White Moderator with buzz cut pink hair.

    If somebody blows up a plane full of Canadians, you give them a taxpayer funded hockey broadcast in their language. 25 years later and not a single criminal charge. Why? "Cultural Sensitivity"

    A child is disciplined by his her White Parents, and they are going to Prison? Why? Somewhere along the way, in the history of this country, the Straight White Male hung up his manhood, and the race has declined since.

    All I'm saying, if you are young white and male, it's not our beards you should be copying. It's a start, but stand up and take control of your family, and then your country, because I, the ethnic Man cannot stand up to this ultra liberal brainwashing, all by myself.
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  • Hi, Tom Archer. I'm a Mr. White Moderator with brown hair, but I thank you for your concern. ;)
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  • I can empathize with the parents but spanking likely wont change the child's behaviour and may make them resentful. Some children are willful and will not listen to their parents no matter what they do. They scoff at discipline such as grounding, sneaking out of the house and find ways to do what ever they want on line, there are computers and phones everywhere. Then they come to realize their parents were actually trying to protect them from harmful influences but it's too late in some cases. Our family has experienced years of drama with our daughter but in the end life lessons and the love of a good guy have saved her.
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