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Talk to kids about 'sexting': OPP

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The OPP is urging all parents to speak to their children about the dangers of self-peer exploitation.

Police continue to receive reports involving youth sending and requesting sexually-explicit images or videos over the Internet.

This is called self-peer exploitation and also is 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 in a situation in which they don't know where to turn.

Teens need to realize the short- and long-term dangers of sending out photographs of themselves.

Those who distribute it also need to be aware of the criminal ramifications of doing so.

Parents often do not know 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 often can 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, which develops and disseminates effective intervention and prevention practices to reach a variety of stakeholders.

Here's useful links to resources:

The OPP also encourages parents to visit “The Door That's Not Locked” website (www.thedoorthatsnotlocked.ca), a resource with age-specific Internet safety information.

This includes material about the online activities that are popular with children of different age groups, the potential risks children face when using certain technologies, and safety strategies to address those concerns.

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