News

Sexting investigation underway in Terrace, B.C.

By Anna Killen and Margaret Speirs

TERRACE RCMP are investigating alleged incidents involving multiple youth and sexting – sending photos of a sexual nature via electronic means.

“There is an ongoing investigation into possession and distribution of child pornography in Terrace,” said Terrace RCMP community policing and media relations officer Const. Angela Rabut. “This is commonly referred to as sexting due to the ages of the youth involved.”

Terrace RCMP are working “closely with our community partners as we continue with this investigation,” she said.

That includes the Coast Mountains School District, which was made aware of the investigation by the RCMP, confirmed school superintendent Nancy Wells.

“They've asked for our cooperation,” said Wells. “We're not involved in the matter in any way... that's totally an RCMP matter at this point.”

An information session for parents and community members on bullying, cyber-bullying and the use of social media is being hosted by the district, along with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Safer Schools Together, the Ministry of Education and the RCMP Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at the REM Lee Theatre.

The evening information session is in addition to a week of training already scheduled by the school district for its employees.

That bullying prevention program is called ERASE and is put on by the education ministry.

“[The program is] technically for school safety, but in order to make schools safe you work with everybody in the community,” Wells said. “The sessions during the day are for school people and community agencies so on this particular issue we decided it would be a good idea if we put on a session in the evening so parents could come access.”

Since the program's trainers were already going to be in town, and the district has become more aware of incidents taking place in Terrace, it made sense to hold an extra session for parents.

“Since they're going to be in town, we're going to take advantage of it because we know it's out there,” she said. “The anti-bullying and all of the stuff we're trying to do with kids is to just encourage them not to get into situations where they become vulnerable.”

Parents need to be aware too, she said.

“A lot of parents are extremely naive. They pay the bill and buy the phone and that's the end of it,” she said. “It's not really totally our role to manage how kids use social media, however, we do feel a responsibility to keep kids safe.”

Rabut agrees that parents need to be made aware of the realities of social media and cell phone use among youth.

Parents need to talk with their children about staying safe and being responsible with electronic devices, she said.

“Parents also need to be active and involved in their children's online activities by monitoring their child's use of electronic devices,” said Rabut.

“[The information session] is an excellent opportunity for parents/community members to educate themselves on this topic,” said Rabut.

Topics and resources at the session will include: cyber-bullying and related behaviors; sites and apps students are using in today's digital world; impact of social media and the effect it has on youth; abbreviations and social media communication; tips for adults to support children who are being targeted; strategies to talk to your child about the importance of their digital footprint; child's usage,safety, and privacy while online, said Rabut.

Parents can also check out cybertip.ca, a site with information for teachers, parents and children around various issues such as sexting.

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