(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

Active investigation into reported sexual assault at CFB Esquimalt

An Oct. 5 allegation is being investigated by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Federal environment minister faces protesters in Saanich

Catherine McKenna defended her government’s environmental record

Food service workers at Victoria airport demonstrate for second time in four months

Negotiations continue to drag on with employer Compass Group Canada, VAA refuses to engage

Taxis in bus lanes not being considered, Victoria Transit chair says

Susan Brice responds to a cab driver’s request for access to Douglas Street priority lanes

Saanich councillor leads CRD as board chair

Colin Plant vows to seek partial leave from teaching to commit to board

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

POLL: Have BC Ferry waits ever forced you to cancel your travel plans?

Many BC Ferry passengers heading out from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on… Continue reading

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes

Ebay is calling on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute, warning that quick action is needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

No G20 member has climate plan strong enough to meet Paris targets: report

Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies.

Federal and provincial government spend more dough on ecological ‘Timbits’

Ottawa and Victoria spend $14.65 million completing conservation area in southeastern B.C.

Talent show: B.C. girl, 8, memorizes entire periodic table

Grade 4 student Maya Lakhanpal heads to B.C. talent show finals with unique talent

B.C. teacher suspended 5 days for touching colleague’s buttocks

Lancer Kevin Price of Chilliwack has handed the retroactive suspension for 2017 incidents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Most Read