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Canadian website teaches perils of 'sexting'

  The new website,, will help teens know when a line has been crossed in texting.

A growing concern around the issue of teen "sexting" has led to the launch of a website designed to teach young people about the safe use of text messaging.

The website,, has been set up by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, in partnership with Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

It uses youthful graphics and language to let teens "get the 411" on all sorts of texting issues: unhealthy relationships, harassment, stress and trying to determine when a line has been crossed.

The term "sexting" refers to the sharing of nude photos, videos and chat by cellphone or online.

A poll conducted last fall by The Associated Press and MTV suggested that more than one-quarter of young people in the U.S. are "sexting."

The new website comes as a U.S. study released Wednesday found that young people have more access to mobile phones than ever.

The study by the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that 66 per cent of people between age eight and 18 owned a cellphone in 2009, up from 39 per cent in 2004. (The rate of those who own an iPod or other MP3 player has increased to 76 per cent from 18 per cent in the same time.)

Time consuming

The study also found that kids between grades 7 and 12 spend an average of more than 90 minutes a day sending or receiving text messages.

"The bottom line is that all these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media," Victoria Rideout, foundation vice-president and director of the study, said in a release.

"It’s more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their lives," she said.

The study found that kids aged eight to 18 devoted an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week), up from six hours and 21 minutes in 2004.

However, the study found that children consumed nearly three hours less media per day in households where parents set limits, compared with households where there were no rules on media use.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Cybertip is Canada's national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. The tipline is owned and operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of all children. accepts and addresses online and telephone reports from the public regarding:

  • Child Pornography (images of child abuse)
  • Online luring
  • Child exploitation through prostitution
  • Travelling to sexually exploit children

For more information on these incident types, please click here.

On average, receives over 700 reports and 800,000 hits to its website per month. All reports that are in contravention of the Criminal Code (Canada) are sent to police for possible investigation. As of January 2008, reports to the tipline had resulted in 43 arrests and the removal of 2,850 websites from the Internet.

On February 28th, Bill C-2 received Royal Assent and legally raised the age of protection from 14 to 16 years. This day not only marked a historical step towards protecting our youth from adult sexual predators, but also a day of triumph for local political lobbyist, Lisa Brinkerhoff. 

Recent "Awareness Video" created by the Vancouver Onyx Group

Music video raising awareness of the sexual exploitation of children and youth. For more information, please contact the Onyx Program at Or visit or

New Opportunities for Women (NOW) Canada Society

Programs for Sexually Exploited Female Youth:  
Residential Safe Home Program - transitional housing for female youth with, or without, children;   
Client Support Program - one-on-one support and ongoing needs assessment, 24-hour emergency pager, opportunity to participate in Trauma Therapy;  
ASK Learning Centre - A three-month life skills day program;   
Next Step Program - Work experience and a back to school/work component;   
Follow Care Program - Client-initiated support provided on a declining basis, helping participants become fully independent;  
NOW Place Apartments - Subsidized, transitional independent living for the society's program graduates and women from the community who are in need with, or without, children.  
CAP sites are available for free computer and internet access.

Alexandra Gardner Women and Children Safe Centre (AGSC) - low barrier homeless shelter for women and children.  

Youth in BC

Sexual exploitation can take many different forms, and you may be surprised to find out that it doesn’t always involve the exchange of sex for money. When we think of sexual exploitation we often think of things like prostitution and pornography, which are one part of sexual exploitation. It can also involve more understated things like the exchange of sexual favours for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, food, a place to stay, or acceptance into a peer group. All of these practices can be demeaning, degrading, and often life-threatening to the youth who is involved.

Sexual exploitation of youth is against the law! In Canada, anyone under the age of 18 cannot consent to sell their body for sexual purposes. Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse, and is never the fault of the young person involved.

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