December 8, 2015 6:04 pm
Updated: December 8, 2015 9:31 pm

3 Alberta teens charged for sharing intimate images of high school students

WATCH ABOVE: Three Okotoks high school students have been charged with sharing intimate images of young girls. Tracy Nagai reports.

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Alberta police have charged three male high school students with distribution of intimate images after an investigation showed several friends were sharing images of female students.

Cpl. Sharon Franks said a teenage girl alerted the RCMP to the situation within the last couple of weeks.

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“This type of activity, unfortunately, is more prevalent than what we have come to know,” Franks said. “It is the time of online communications; lots of teenagers are hooked into social media sites and things like that. So through the course of the investigation we believe that we will likely find further victims in relation to this investigation, but also there may be further charges pending once we complete our investigation.”

Franks said two victims, in the same age range as the accused, are involved in this case. She couldn’t specify which sites or devices the images were shared on or with as the investigation continues.

READ MORE: Why the privacy watchdog wants to shame ‘scumbag’ cyberbullies

“It’s not frequent that people get charged for this, and that’s why we felt it was important to put that out—to let people know that it is an offence,” Franks said. “Sharing intimate images is unacceptable on a number of levels, but most importantly, it’s an offence under the Criminal Code.”

A spokesperson from the Foothills School Division, which oversees public high schools in Okotoks, said the incident described by RCMP is an “unfortunate result of communications in today’s online/social media age.”

“As a division, we educate our students about appropriate online behaviour and share online safety resources and information with school families,” Deborah Spence wrote in an email to Global News.

Spence said one example is coming up in the new year: Oilfields High School in Black Diamond is hosting a social media presentation for parents on Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Spence said it’s open to all interested parents “regardless of whether they have children in our school division.”

Okotoks RCMP said the three accused, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were charged Monday.

The three male teens have since been released from custody and are set to appear in an Okotoks courtroom on Dec. 18.

The RCMP suggested anyone who wants more information concerning cyberbullying and or relationships to visit the following links:

RCMP bullying and cyberbullying information page
NeedHelpNow.ca
Government of Canada page on sharing intimate images without consent

READ MORE: First-in-Canada law allows N.S. cyberbullying victims to sue, seek protection

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