Pedophile lured teens into sending revealing photos
Published Friday, November 19, 2010 6:52PM EST
A Toronto police detective related a story at a safe texting event that could be considered a teenage boy's worst nightmare.
"In one case alone from this year, over 40 teenage boys shared video of themselves naked and touching their private parts," Det. Sgt. Kim Scanlan, head of the Toronto Police Service's child exploitation unit, said Friday.
"Each of them believed that the person they were sharing with was a young teen girl -- although they'd never met in person. They'd only texted and shared on some social networking sites."
The “teen girl” turned out to be an older man, she said.
That man then turned around and shared the video with other pedophiles, Scanlan said.
"The embarrassment and humiliation of the 40 boys we could identify was monumental. None of them wanted anyone else to know, and few would agree to come to court," she said.
Another case saw a teenage girl send pictures to an online boyfriend who also turned out to be involved in distributing child pornography, she said.
"Too many do not seem to fully understand the real-world consequences of their actions," she said.
"School-age teens are getting into trouble by sharing suggestive digital text, video and images. More and more of these images are ending up in criminal investigations, which waters down the real horror of child pornography," Scanlan said.
The detective was speaking Friday at an event at Runnymede Public School on safe texting.
Texting is an integral part of life for today's teens. They are estimated to send an estimated 3,000 text messages per month, or about six per waking hour.
"That's one of the ways I communicate with my son actually is through texts," said Laureen Harper, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's wife, who attended the event. "Last night I actually texted him. I could hear him -- 'go to bed' -- so I use that all the time."
Many parents don't understand the technology and how it can be misused -- while many teens don't know how to stay safe.
The TextED.ca website is designed to teach students in Grades 7 and higher how to avoid trouble.
It had the approval of Ishta Xavier, a 13-year-old. "I like all the games and activities because it's really teaching you tips and stuff but in a fun way for children."
Harper admitted she didn't know all the lingo associated with texting, such as POS -- or "parent over the shoulder -- and code9, meaning an adult's around.
The site contains a section called "the 411" -- guidelines for safe texting.
Number three? "I will never send nude pics, either of me or another, via text message (or by any other means)."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding