(Jhaymesisviphotography/Flickr)

4 in 10 young Canadians have sent a sext, 6 in 10 have received one: report

About 40 per cent said at least one of their intimate photos had been shared without their consent

About four in 10 young Canadians have sent a sext and more than six in 10 have received one, suggests a new report, which also puts a spotlight on the unauthorized sharing of sexual photographs among teens.

Still, sexting happens less commonly among youth than many people believe — including nearly all of the survey’s 800 16- to 20-year-old participants, said Matthew Johnson, director of education for the non-profit organization MediaSmarts.

It’s also not an “intrinsically harmful” behaviour, he said, with the majority of sexts remaining private between the sender and intended recipient.

“We need to move from fear-mongering to talking about things from an ethical and moral point of view,” said Johnson, who called the report one of the first in the world to focus on the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

“We need to be talking about consent in all contexts, including digital contexts … and to really send a loud and clear message that this is not normal, and this is not OK, and nothing gives you the right to share someone’s sext except them actually telling you that you can.”

Of the survey respondents who said they had sent a sext in the past, about 40 per cent said at least one of their intimate photos had been shared without their consent.

“Even though boys and girls send and receive sexts at similar rates, and even though they have their sexts shared at similar rates, the harm is very much unequal, and it falls much more heavily on girls,” Johnson said.

“There can be harm done to people’s reputation. Obviously, there’s an inherent harm just in the loss of privacy and violation of consent … (senders) have been blackmailed, in some cases.”

Researchers also found there was a significant relationship between sharing sexts and subscribing to traditional gender stereotypes that cast men as sexual aggressors and women as “gatekeepers.”

According to the study, roughly one-third of participants either said they believed that a girl who sexts outside of a relationship ”shouldn’t be surprised if it gets around,” or felt “nobody should be surprised if boys share sexts with each other.”

Young people’s attitudes about sexting were highly influenced by those of their peers, Johnson added, and if their friends engaged in sharing sexts, many participants said there was an expectation that they would reciprocate.

“The sharing behaviours are being done by almost exclusively the same people,” he said. “All of these things point to essentially a subculture among youth that normalizes sharing, and even to a certain extent valorizes it.”

While nearly two-thirds of participants said they were aware of a relatively recent law against the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, Johnson said the threat of criminal consequences does not appear to be much of a deterrent among teens.

The MediaSmarts study was based on an anonymous, internet-based survey of young people around the country that was conducted in August and September 2017. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

A cuddle and a coffee: Six Island towns named among Canada’s most cozy

Sidney, Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Tofino and Ucluelet crack Expedia’s top 40

Ucluelet police seize firearms and cocaine in drug trafficking investigation

The file remains under investigation and charges are pending.

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Mainroad awarded 10-year maintenance contract for Tofino-Ucluelet Hwy. 4

See an issue on the highway? Report it to the Mainroad 24-hour hotline: 1-877-215-6006.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read