In wake of two sets of London charges, experts say embarrassment and laws aren’t deterring ‘sexting’

Unsuspecting teens’ intimate photos shared online, a teen girl filmed during sex without her knowing — two separate investigations, three accused and police in two Southwestern Ontario cities shaking their heads.

Reason for alarm, yes.

But, despite all the lessons kids get about responsible online behaviour and criminal sanctions that can result if they don’t, experts warn it’s par for the course — even the new normal — in the sharing culture - writes

In the span of less than a week, police in London and St. Thomas have laid child pornography charges against three young men in two different cases — both stemming from intimate photos and videos of teens who didn’t know they were being targeted.

The alleged victims aren’t alone.

Forty-two per cent of Canadian youth who’ve sent sexy or nude images — what experts call sexts — have had one shared without their consent, a new national survey of 800 16- to 20-year-olds found.

“There’s a significant number of sext recipients sharing sexts they’ve received. That’s unambiguously illegal under Canadian law,” said study author Matthew Johnson. “The privacy risk, the risk of getting in trouble, the risk of blowback — none of these things seemed to be major (deterrents) for the sharers.”

The research, lead by the University of Toronto and digital media literacy non-profit MediaSmarts, found 41 per cent of respondents had sent intimate photos and 30 per cent had shared a racy shot by showing it to another person, forwarding it electronically or posting it publicly.

In London, racy photos of an unsuspecting teen couple were shared with almost 800 people on Facebook, police say.

On Monday, London police arrested and charged an 18-year-old St. Thomas man accused of posting and sharing racy photos of the teen boy and girl, both under age 16, on the social media site.

The unidentified accused — who was known to the couple — logged into the accounts of one of the other young people in early September without permission and put the photos online, police say.

Last Thursday, St. Thomas police slapped a 15-year-old boy and 18-year-old man with child pornography charges after a 14-year-old girl was reportedly videotaped without her knowledge during a sex act.

In Stratford, a 22-year-old man accused of extorting women online with their own naked photos will be back in court March 13 to answer to 35 criminal charges, including several counts of criminal harassment and publishing an intimate image without consent.

But the threat of serious legal ramifications barely does anything to deter young people from sharing intimate photos without consent, Johnson said.

Ditto for in-school education programs and household rules.

“The youth in our study, about two-thirds of them were aware that sharing sexts was against the law in Canada,” said Johnson.

“But whether or not they knew, that was not connected to how likely they were to share sexts,” Johnson said.

Instead, researchers found young people with high moral disengagement — ones who blamed the victim or downplayed the damage sharing sexy photos can cause — were more likely to distribute shots without consent.

Youth with entrenched gender stereotypes, who strongly agreed men should be more interested in sex or women can’t be truly happy without a relationship, were significantly more likely to have shared a racy picture.

Johnson said this subgroup of their sample — and he believes, the youth population at large — has normalized this kind of non-consensual cyber-sharing, despite the real-world consequences.

The relatively new laws on cyberbullying and distributing photos without consent won’t be able to stamp out sharing, Johnson said, at least not overnight.

“It’s not impossible that, over time, laws might make a difference,” he said.

“But at the same time there also has to be a societal change.”

Read more news of London on our site.
sexting London
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Children living in London boroughs with high diesel pollution suffer from stunted lung capacity, putting them at risk of early death, a study has said. Pupils living in areas that failed to meet EU nitrogen dioxide limits were at increased risk of lung disease, researchers found. The research studied 2,000 London school children over five years. "We are raising a generation of children reaching adulthood with stunted lungs," researchers said. Academics fro...
A private school teacher has been left partially blind after another woman smashed a glass in her face during a night out.  Lisa Bertsch, 30, was at the Be At One bar in Richmond when she was hit in her right eye. The tumbler shattered and left Ms Bertsch, who lives with her boyfriend in Kingston, needing emergency surgery. She said the attack happened when she tried to stop the assailant pouring a cocktail over her friend’s belongings. Ms Bertsch added th...
Discarded syringes have been left in play areas and car parks as a BBC investigation found councils were being called 50 times a day to remove them. Figures obtained by the BBC showed councils handled 18,496 cases in 2017-18, a rise of 7% in two years. A volunteer pricked by a discarded needle has told how he faces a wait for HIV and hepatitis test results. The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was "committed to doing more to reduce d...
The German Zeppelin bombing campaign of London during WWI has been brought to the fore again days before the centenary of the war in a film made by schoolchildren. The first ever example of strategic bombing in history - a tactic used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying their morale or economy - was during the First World War Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II initially banned attacks on the capital because of his close connection to the...
London’s busiest train station has recruited a hawk to scare off pigeons following a spate of complaints from angry passengers. Aria, a five-year-old harris hawk, has begun patrolling Waterloostation in a bid to stop people having to “fight" off pigeons while eating. There are 27 food and drink retailers at the Network Rail-managed station, and many customers have complained about pigeons pecking at food and leaving a mess. The birds have been pictured sit...
London City Airport is going to fine airlines for breaching noise limits after a surge in complaints from residents.  The airport, based in the Royal Docks, has launched a “penalty and incentive” scheme for planes breaching its rules, and will name and shame them online. Bosses revealed the airport had seen a spike in complaints since launching concentrated flight paths in February 2016. The paths were changed after new air traffic control technology was b...
The Crossrail delay will cost Transport for London almost £200 million next year in lost revenue, the Standard has learned. Latest calculations suggest the expected nine-month delay to the completion of the Elizabeth Line, first revealed in August, will cost the cash-strapped body almost £550,000-a-day.  TfL, which has a deficit of around £1bn, has told the London Assembly it will miss out on £170million income from passenger fares and up to £20million in...
Motorists who park in cycle lanes in one of London’s “Mini Holland” boroughs could have their residents’ parking permits revoked, council chiefs warned today. A crackdown on illegal parking has been launched by Waltham Forest council amid growing anger at the way some drivers are blocking the new routes.  They are being introduced under a £30 million initiative to encourage walking and cycling by building Dutch-style segregated routes, including a three-mi...
‘Only a bloody stark raving alcoholic is bloody drunk at 1.30pm in the afternoon,’ says Air India pilot. A senior Air India pilot was grounded after he failed breathalyser tests shortly before a flight from New Delhi to London on Sunday. Arvind Kathpalia, who is responsible for safety at the airline as operations director, denied drinking on the job and said he would contest the results of the alcohol checks. “It was 1.30pm in the afternoon, only a bloody...