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It is a BIG Deal- Sharing sexual pictures and the law

Canadian teens are being negatively and seriously impacted by the spread of sexual pictures and the social fallout that often occurs. These situations can result in youth being isolated by friends, cyberbullied and often left feeling powerless.

Canada has a law to help deal with the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image. Under this law, it is illegal for any person to share or send an "intimate image" of another person [of any age] without that person?s consent. However, if the image involves someone under 18, it may be illegal to share it even if that person gave consent.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection encourages parents to talk to their teens about the seriousness of sharing intimate images.

If your teen has shared a sexual picture or video with a person and that picture or video is being shared with others online or by text (or if they are worried this may occur), there are steps your teen can take to regain control over the situation.

1. If the picture/video is posted online, contact the website where it is posted and let them know that your child is a Canadian citizen who did not post this content to the website, your child did not give permission for the picture/video to be posted and you want it removed. Visit NeedHelpNow.ca for information on contacting popular social media websites.

2. To ensure the person who has the picture/video knows how your child feels, have your child send a text message or email saying something like: "I do not consent to you having the picture/video of me [add a description such as 'that I sent you on (date)']. I want you to delete it, and I do not give you permission to share it with anyone else."

This message can be sent even if the image has not been shared yet.

3. If your child is scared that an intimate image might be shared by someone, you can apply for a "prevention order." Local courthouses have information about how to get a prevention order.

4. You may wish to report your concerns to police or to Cybertip.ca, Canada's tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. 

Note: The above is NOT intended as legal advice; the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image offence is a relatively new offence and it is not possible to anticipate how the legislation will be interpreted and enforced by police and the courts.

NeedHelpNow.ca, an initiative of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (protectchildren. ca), is intended to provide information to youth who have been negatively impacted by a sexual picture/video being shared by peers. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. The Canadian Centre operates Cybertip.ca.

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