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Sexting a concern: Police

The Brockville Police Service gets questions each week about how to deal with sexting, a problem they say is becoming more commonplace in the community.  Sexting is the sharing of illicit images, usually done through cell phones or other mobile devices, and Detective-Constable Graham Coe said the police force sees sexting most commonly with teenagers.  “We deal with the issue, either formally or informally, requiring a full investigation or just advice over the phone, probably about once a week,” Coe said.

“It can be a local school that contacts us looking for advice or direction, or to discuss what’s been going on.”  Coe and Tom Reil, the police service’s technical service coordinator, gave a presentation about Internet safety, cyber bullying and sexting Tuesday, as part of events for Police Week, at the 1000 Islands Mall.  Coe stressed more parental involvement is needed to address the issue. Parents should be asking their children about the social networking sites they use and how the sites work, he said.

Images shared on the Internet never disappear and a split-second decision to share an illicit image can haunt someone for the rest of his or her life.  “There are consequences,” said Reil. “They don’t think about what can happen.”  The consequences of sharing an image can include cyber bullying, police involvement and even child pornography charges. The two focused on the fact that sharing a nude photo with a significant other rarely just stays between those two people, and is often shared among peer groups.

Coe said the images are being shared among teenagers like trading cards.  “It’s become socially acceptable amongst their peer group to do this,” he said.  “Until they decide that it’s not socially acceptable to do this, we’re going to continue to see this.”

Coe would like to start making presentations about the dangers of sexting to younger students about to enter high school.  He also said the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy enacted by the local school boards needs addressing.  “I know the school boards have openly said they embrace technology and how they want technology in the school and in the classroom,” Coe said.  “That’s fine, but we need to be clear about how we’re going to allow it to be used.”

Brockville Recorder