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Cole Harbour teen faces child porn charges for allegedly sharing intimate photo

HALIFAX – A Cole Harbour high school student is facing child pornography charges after allegedly sharing an illicit photo of a fellow student.

In January, staff at Auburn Drive High School were approached by a 16-year-old female student who told them a male student was sharing a picture of her with his friends without her consent.

The male student, who was 16 years old at the time, confirmed to school staff he shared the photo.

Following an investigation, RCMP have laid charges of possessing and distributing child pornography against the teen, who is now 17.

“It still looks like we have a ways to go to educate our students, the youth and adults for that matter that when these images are capture, they don’t always stay private,” said Cpl. Scott MacRae, spokesperson for the Halifax RCMP.

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“They can be distributed publicly. If you really don’t want that to happen, those pictures just shouldn’t exist.”

Though police seized several cell phones, they do not anticipate laying charges against any other students.

“It’s important in this case for police to centre in on the cause, the source and look at all the facts after they talk to a lot of people and…see what may be the appropriate charges to lay in this matter,” MacRae said.

The incident had many students discussing the issue of intimate pictures taken and sent to others.

“It’s not really the right thing to do the way he did it. It’s a problem that’s spreading around,” said Grade 10 student Jace Colley.

“It is a big problem, but it goes unheard,” said student Kendra Slawter. “They only talk about it when it actually comes out and people find out about it.”

It also had students talking about the importance of thinking twice before pressing “Send”.

“If she was so worried, she shouldn’t have sent it to him…he should have kept it to himself if he got it in the first place,” said Grade 10 student Jarvis Coley.

The Halifax Regional School Board said the accused student did face consequences.

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“I can’t get into specifics, but what I can say is the school would have looked at its code of conduct,” said school board spokesperson Doug Hadley. “They would have determined this matter was considered severely disruptive behaviour,

“We know the authorities were contacted but what I can’t say is what the consequence from a school position was.”

Hadley said the school board is looking into developing a digital citizenship policy to help students figure out what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour.

“It’s unfortunate this incident occurred. It’s also unfortunate a student is facing charges criminally. The underlying message has to be your actions — you have to be accountable for them and it could be criminal,” he said.

MacRae said parents need to discuss the consequences of phone activity with their children.

“You really have to sit down with your youth and have that tough talk about cell phones, proper use of them and what could happen in terms of bad activities,” he said.

The male student was released from police custody last Friday with a promise to appear in court on May 8.