Officials raise warnings over dangers of sexting by teens
The provincial government is hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of sexting by teens in a bid to curb the practice.
Sexting involves sending explicit messages, videos or images via cellphones.
"That image will be out there forever and can't be taken back. It can be used to extort," said Gord Mackintosh, the province's minister of family services.
The average teen sends about 3,500 text messages in a month, said the province. A U.S. study, meanwhile, suggests about 20 per cent of teens admitted to sexting, using texts to send explicit material, said the province.
Some teens shared stories with CTV News about the impact of sexting.
"This girl I know...sent a picture of her breasts to her boyfriend and when they broke up he showed the picture to all this friends and put it on Facebook," said Kris Schween, a Grade 10 student.
In Texas, the state is considering easing legal punishment for sexting. Currently, teens caught can face child pornography charges and can be registered as a sex offender. If the new law passes, it would make the crime a misdemeanor, with a focus on education for offenders.
In Winnipeg, police said there is a possibility a teen could face charges of child porn possession and distribution, if an image was sent to others. Officers said every case is different and sometimes it's considered more of a bad judgment call, rather than a criminal activity.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has created the website TextED.ca, which is focused on teaching teenagers how to be respectful and safe using texting to communicate.
The centre and the government are working together to create a response plan to sexting.
"We don't want to criminalize teen behaviour. We want to talk to teens and educate them on why they should not be doing this," said Lianna McDonald, executive director for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley
- more information from TextED.ca is available online at