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‘Sexting is porn’ campaign raises awareness in Châteauguay-area schools

Châteauguay police are remind teenagers that sharing naked photos of their underaged peers is a criminal offence.
Châteauguay police are remind teenagers that sharing naked photos of their underaged peers is a criminal offence. Global News

Think twice before sending a sexual or erotic message or photo to someone — especially if you’re a minor, Châteauguay police are warning.

The force has launched a “Sexting is Porn” campaign, targeting thousands of students aged 12 to 17 — as well as their parents — to educate them about the risks of sexting and help teenagers cope if they should fall victim to a crime.

READ MORE: ‘Sexting’ – what is it and should parents be worried?

“If a situation should arise, it can have a big impact on the life of a student to have their photos out there,” said Jenny Lavigne, a community outreach agent with Châteauguay police.

“If a photo has been distributed, they must talk to an adult so they can intervene at school, with their parents, with the police so we can help them.”

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READ MORE: What parents need to know about ‘ghost apps’ used to hide sexts

Sharing or possessing an intimate photo of another person can lead to an arrest — even if you’re underage.

Châteauguay police have launched a “Sexting is Porn” campaign to target teens.
Châteauguay police have launched a “Sexting is Porn” campaign to target teens. Châteauguay police

Lavigne said she has already dealt with a case involving children as young as 12 years old.

“We want the idea that sexting is porn to stay in their heads,” Lavigne told Global News.

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“There’s a lot of prevention programs already for bullying and sexting, but young people still say to us, ‘oh, I didn’t know it’s porn because we’re young.’ They’re not always aware.”

WATCH BELOW: Is sexting dangerous?

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Lavigne points out it’s important for parents to be involved in order for the campaign to work.

READ MORE: B.C. teen gets conditional discharge in child porn ‘sexting’ case

They will receive a letter from their child’s school; there will also be a number of posters on display in the schools’ hallways.

“We want parents to keep an eye out at home and speak to their children,” she explained.

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Since 2016, Châteauguay police have investigated over 30 child pornography cases — a growing phenomenon because “teens trivialize the risks.”

READ MORE: Police issue warning on ‘sexting’ after Ontario teens reprimanded over nude photos

“We’ve met with some kids already and many of they didn’t know they could be stopped [arrested] for this,” said Lavigne.

“When you’re under 18 yeas old, naked photos are juvenile porn. It’s criminal.”

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WATCH BELOW: The risks of sexting

Officers will present the campaign at the following schools:

  • École secondaire des Patriotes-de-Beauharnois on Friday, Jan. 26
  • École Gabrielle-Roy on Tuesday, Jan. 30
  • École Louis-Philippe-Paré on Wednesday, Jan. 31
  • École Marguerite-Bourgeois on Thursday, Feb. 1
  • Howard S. Billings Regional High School on Friday, Feb. 2
  • Collège Héritage de Châteauguay on Tuesday, Feb. 6
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Students will have a chance to meet with authorities and social workers in a casual setting and even speak privately if they so wish.

READ MORE: Online safety tips every parent should consider

The campaign is in partnership with the Commission scolaire des Grandes-Seigneuries, the Commission scolaire de la Vallée-des-Tisserands, the New Frontiers School Board, Collège Héritage and social workers at CALACS, a Quebec coalition of sexual assault centres.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca