(NORFOLK COUNTY, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Norfolk County Detachment is urging all parents to speak to their children about the dangers of Self-Peer Exploitation after police received a complaint from a Norfolk County, Ontario resident.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at approximately 11:57 a.m., police were contacted after a 17-year-old female received inappropriate messages through a social media website from a 14-year-old male requesting sexually explicit photos.

Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that no photos were sent and she immediately notified a trusted adult of the request who in turn contacted the police.

There has been a marked increase in the number of reports involving youth being requested to send sexually explicit images or videos of themselves over the internet to peers. This is called self-peer exploitation. It is also known as sexting.

The OPP is concerned about the safety of those involved and wants to create a greater awareness about the issue and what can be done if a teen finds themselves overwhelmed with the reality of their actions.

Teens need to realize the long and short-term dangers of sending out photographs of themselves. Those who distribute it also need to be aware of the criminal ramifications of doing so.

Porn culture is becoming pop culture, and often parents do not know that their kids are involved, and it can be difficult to determine. Parents are encouraged to have honest and frank discussions with their kids about what self-peer exploitation is, and explain that the images can often end up somewhere they may not want them to be. Be prepared to offer them some information about who they can turn to if they need help.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of children, with a goal to reduce child victimization. They are a great resource, and have many links to information that is helpful to parents, educators and teens themselves. The Centre also has a tip line to report online sexual exploitation called Cybertip.ca. Cybertip.ca is developing and disseminating effective intervention and prevention practices to reach a variety of stakeholders.

“Everyone needs to realize the long and short term dangers when requests are made to send out sexually explicit photographs. Those who distribute it also need to be aware of the criminal ramifications of doing so. Once it’s out there, you can’t get it back and you should not be embarrassed to speak to police about your concerns”, comments Constable Ed Sanchuk, Norfolk County OPP.