In Bridgewater Nova Scotia six teens are set to appear in court charged under new legislation dealing with sharing images. The charges relate to the distributing of intimate images without permission, and possession of child porn. The suspects are two 18-year olds, and four 15-year olds.
They result from sharing images of 20 girls uploaded to a Dropbox folder without permission. It’s the first test of a new clause under the criminal code making it an offense. It reads in part: “a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet.” For example: Let’s say you take a photo of your partner/spouse in a sexual position, and share it without their knowledge on Facebook or social media. They could under this new legal measure have you charged. If found guilty, the victim could have the images wiped from the Internet.
It was a law created in the wake of the Rehtaeh Parsons case. Parsons committed suicide after being raped, and bullied for months. The new legislation is supposed to address the ongoing problem of “sexting” where people share sexually suggestive images- usually with a willing partner.
Social media makes it a bigger problem. We’ve seen images, quotes, and everything spread through twitter and Facebook unquestioned like wildfire. I’ve seen teens share a phone their personal cell phone numbers on open Facebook groups. It’s too easy to google a phone number and find out who it belongs to, and where they live.
Teens shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of thing on top of how difficult life can be as a teenager. They should be making mistakes; falling for the wrong person, figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Adding the worry over sexting to everything else makes it even more difficult.
At 15, and 18 years old you should be old enough to know right from wrong. You should be aware enough that if you take a picture of a naked person and share it in any form without permission it’s wrong. It presents a real challenge for the authorities because it’s one of the first cases of its kind. The book should be thrown at them; a lesson taught.
But they’re 15, and 18 years old. This could ruin their lives. The question with this case then becomes how do you temper the need to set an example with compassion?
It’s one the reasons this case is one to watch.
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