With sexting on the rise in Canada, teens are continuing to get themselves in hot water by sharing these non-consensual images. The Oxford Dictionary defines sexting as, “Send[ing] (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone.”
This issue has roots right here in London with the police arresting and charging an 18-year old man, accused of posting and sharing intimate photos of an underage girl on a social media website this week. This is not the only case in London as within a week, the London Police have charged three men with crimes related to the sharing of racy images or videos without the individuals consent.
A new study now suggests 42% of Canadian youths have sent intimate photos or nudes and had them shared without their consent. MediaSmarts Director of Education and author of the study, “Sexuality and Romantic Relationships in the Digital Age,” Matthew Johnson says almost two-thirds of youths between the age of 16-20 are sharing sexts against Canadian law.
The study shows that young adults with high moral disengagement, including attributes like blaming the victim, are more likely to share sexts without consent. Johnson says that the basis of their research surrounds standard gender roles, “Anything that was seen by as a girl having violated standard gender roles, and anything at the same time that was seen as young men or boys following standard gender roles were strongly connected with sharing sexts.”
Johnson says the study looks into how teens don’t see sharing sexts as wrong and that’s why teens weren’t influenced into as seeing this as a form of cyberbullying or disrespect, “People who are sharing sexts saw the senders as having given up their right to be respected and having given up their right to give or withhold consent about what happened to their photo.”
When asked how to fix this issue Johnson detailed that education about the real-world consequences and the laws will hopefully have a difference over time, although we will not see a definite transformation in the near future.