RCMP: Talk to your preteens and teens about intimate images, video

RCMP badge. (Police photo)

WINDSOR JUNCTION/ELMSDALE: As your junior high and high school aged kids settle into a new school year, it’s a good time to talk to them about cyber safety.

A fresh school year brings new relationships, social pressures and technology, so it can be helpful to open a supportive and non-judgemental dialogue about using technology in a safe and positive way. Part of this conversation may include talking about the risks of using technology to send and receive intimate images and video.

An intimate image (also known as a “nude”) or intimate video involves some form of nudity.

“It can certainly be uncomfortable to talk to your kids about intimate images and videos, but by addressing this with them, you can make sure they get helpful information rather than incorrect information from a less-reliable source,” said Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, Nova Scotia RCMP.

Having the conversation

During your open, non-judgemental conversation, there are a variety of topics to cover, outlined below.

Q: Why are requesting, sending and receiving intimate images and video problematic?

A: Sending intimate images or videos of yourself or someone else is problematic for many reasons. These include but are not limited to:

· If someone is pressuring you to send intimate content, they aren’t respecting your personal boundaries. This is a red flag of an unhealthy relationship.

· The person receiving the image could send it to someone else. For example, you may trust your boyfriend or girlfriend now, but what if you break up and they still have the photo?

· If you distribute intimate content of someone else, you will eventually regret it. Even if you don’t think so now, you will likely feel guilty for hurting someone in a deeply personal way.

· Sextortion (threatening to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay them or provide more sexual content).

· Trauma and other psychological harm to yourself, your loved ones and others.

· Bullying

· If the person is under 18, intimate content is considered child pornography. Distributing child pornography can result in up to 14 years in jail. Possessing child pornography can result in nearly two years in jail.

Requesting intimate images or video is also problematic for reasons including but not limited to:

· If you are requesting intimate images or video from someone under 18, you are requesting child pornography. Possessing child pornography can result in nearly two years in jail.

· Even if they only send the content to you, there’s always the possibility that someone else will get access to it. You are putting that person at risk.

Q: What should you do if you’ve sent intimate content of yourself or someone else?

A: Tell a trusted adult and start taking steps to address it. Visit https://needhelpnow.ca/app/en/ for more information on how to start.

Q: What should you do if someone sends you intimate content?

A: Tell a trusted adult. They can talk through the situation with you and help figure out your next steps. You may wish to report your concerns anonymously at https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/report.

After the conversation

It’s helpful to lay the groundwork for an ongoing dialogue on intimate content so that your pre-teen or teen feels more comfortable telling you if something is wrong.

Staying in the loop

The above information was compiled through a number of reputable online resources, including those noted below, where you will find helpful tips and information:

By better understanding the issue as it relates youth, you will be more prepared to deal with any concerns in the future.

Throughout the month of September, the Nova Scotia RCMP will continue to share tips for using technology safely using the hashtag #RedFlagBehaviour. To follow along, go to The RCMP in Nova Scotia on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rcmpns/) and @RCMPNS on Twitter (https://twitter.com/RCMPNS).