(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

54-40 headlines Aldergrove Fair Days

Free concerts series at 106th annual Fair Days, July 20-22

Langley Township firefighters extract cow from fish pond

Bovine fell in after escaping from neighbouring property

VIDEO: Barclay Parneta new Giants GM

Becomes third General Manager in the history of the franchise

Langley businessman pickets bank

HEMPYZ owner Randy Caine says a TD manager had doubts about the nature of his business

Strong showing by Langley Olympians Swim Club (LOSC) at Hyack

Club sent 25 swimmers to competed with over 400 swimmers from 18 B.C. teams.

VIDEO: Langley music school’s quartet wraps up season with show at home

The Rose Gellert String Quartet performs Sunday in the Cafe Classico season finale.

Union calls on prime minister to step into ‘stalled’ Phoenix compensation talks

For more than two years, thousands of federal workers have been affected by Phoenix system

Judge: President Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

The judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics

B.C. aHUS patient in need of kidney donation

Despite receiving $750K drug Soliris, Paul Chung’s kidneys failed

NFL owners adopt new policy to address anthem protests

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by owners

Unicyclist starts his cross-Canada trip in Vancouver

Taylor Stark started his journey May 7

Film Review: On Chesil Beach

Saoirse Ronan continues to shine in adaptation Ian McEwan novel about young newlyweds on their wedding day

BC Seafood Festival competition line-up announced for Island event

Top Vancouver chefs heading to the Island for the largest seafood festival in Western Canada

B.C. patients lost nearly $500,000 due to medical wait times: report

Fraser Institute report shows Canadians as a whole lost $1.9 billion

Most Read