New Resource Available to Assist Canadian Schools in Responding to the Impact of Sexting Incidents on Youth

October 12, 2012

WINNIPEG, MB: The significant increase in the number of reported cases of youth creating, sending or sharing sexual images and/or videos with peers (coined in the media as “sexting” but also referred to as “self/peer exploitation”) is an increasing social problem. Often missed, however, is the larger impact such exchanges can have upon the youth involved, as well as schools, families and the community at large. This includes the consequences of such images/videos when their distribution is used as a form of bullying. Acknowledging the challenges schools and families face in responding to self/peer exploitation, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection has created a new resource guide to assist school personnel with guidelines on how to support youth involved in these complex incidents as well as their families.

“The consequences of self/peer exploitation are often played out within the school environment and school personnel are in the best position to respond and take action,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “This guide is designed to assist school personnel in supporting not only the youth whose picture is being distributed, but also the other youth involved, who sometimes may be distributing the image/video as a form of bullying.”

The resource guide, titled School and Family Approaches to Intervention and Prevention: Addressing Self/Peer Exploitation, was created by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in consultation with educators, law enforcement officers, crown prosecutors, child development experts, and psychologists. Supported by Justice Canada and Bell, the purpose of the resource guide is to help educate school personnel about the issue of self/peer exploitation and offer them a structure and framework on how to respond if a self/peer exploitation incident does occur with students in their school. The resource guide also discusses how to minimize the circulation of the image/video in question, as well as how to appropriately respond to the harmful impact these incidents can have upon the affected youth as well as the school and community at-large.

“We can no longer ignore the impact self/peer exploitation can have on youth,” says McDonald. “It’s a serious problem that can have devastating impacts on families and communities. It is time that we become more aware and educated about how to respond to these sometimes very complex incidents, as well as how to properly support and guide youth who may be dealing with its damaging effects.”

Schools across Canada are encouraged to contact the Canadian Centre for Child Protection at contact@protectchildren.ca for a copy of the resource guide, School and Family Approaches to Intervention and Prevention: Addressing Self/Peer Exploitation.

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