Children of the Street Society in Coquitlam launches campaign
Be careful of what you share on social media, warns a Coquitlam-based child advocacy group.
The Children of the Street Society has launched a campaign to promote awareness of the dangers of sharing photos and texts that could lead to sexual exploitation online.
Developed with the support of Cossette Vancouver, the media campaign bears a marked similarity to the anti-bullying video created by Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd before she committed suicide. Todd was stalked online and her photos were distributed, leading to anxiety and other problems, and, in her much-publicized video, she uses flash cards to tell her story.
The campaign by Children of the Street, called "Just One Photo" also uses flash cards and multiple screens to tell the story of a young girl who shared a private photo online with someone she trusted and then it went viral.
It's a cautionary tale also reminiscent of the media storm that followed a rave in Pitt Meadows two years ago in which photos were posted on Facebook and led to serious charges. Last week, Dennis John Allen Warrington received a conditional discharge, and will be required to complete 120 hours of community service in addition to probation, for photos he posted that went viral.
Children of the Street Society executive director Diane Sowden said in a statement issued today to mark Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week (March 11-17) that young people need to be cautious about what they post online.
Kids might think they are sending a photo to a trusted person, but the situation can quickly get out of control.
"In recent years it has become very apparent that the issue of sexual exploitation has shifted online and is continuously evolving due to the advancement and accessibility of technology," Sowden said in a press release. "This campaign is intended to raise awareness that, when you are online, there is no such thing as sharing just one photo."
While Sowden acknowledged that the media campaign with a girl using flash cards to tell her story is reminiscent of the Amanda Todd video, she said in an interview that the two aren't linked. In fact, Sowden said, flash cards are used often in the media, and by youth online, to share information in a simple and compelling way.
To help spread awareness, the society provides workshops for students aged 11 through 18, and the programs are in high demand, as parents, schools and community groups try to educate young people about being more cautious about sharing information online.
"We continue to see an increase in requests from schools and community groups who are dealing with peer-to-peer exploitation such as "sexting" or young people entering into unhealthy relationships with someone they've met on line."
This week, the society is asking people to wear a fuchsia ribbon, make a donation, like them Facebook or follow them on Twitter. More information is available at www.childrenofthestreet.com
Meanwhile, the "Just One Photo" campaign can be seen on posters, a Youtube video, and transit shelter advertisements.