About 15% of Canadian teens who have received a sext forwarded it along to someone else, a new survey has found.
A survey of 5,436 Canadian students by MediaSmarts found that while sexting is not very prevalent among Canadian teens — 8% of students in Grades 7-11 with cellphones say they've sent one — those who do send racy photos over their phones have quite a wide audience.
About one in five students say they've received a forwarded sext meant for someone else.
While Canadian legislation has come down hard in recent years on people sharing explicit images without consent, scaring students straight doesn't work, Matthew Johnson, director of education for MediaSmarts, said in a blog post about the new research.
"This may seem counter-intuitive, but the available research suggests that interventions are less likely to succeed if they focus on the possible negative consequences, and may indeed cause harm," he wrote. "In fact, one study found that students who were aware of the possible legal consequences of sexting were actually more likely to engage in it."
Elsewhere, the study found boys are increasingly and frequently looking at online pornography. Though 77% of Grade 7-11 kids surveyed said they don't look at online porn, 40% of boys said they do, and more than half of them do so often.
The difference in the availability of porn compared to previous generations — and how much the new generation is taking advantage of it — is dangerous, observers say.
"Pornography is becoming more and more violent," said Megan Walker, of the London Abused Women's Centre in London, Ont.
"Boys are not learning anything about intimacy. They are learning sex is violent and that's how women want it."
The survey questioned children as young as 11 about online pornography.
- with files from Jennifer O'Brien