Advocating abstinence to young Canadians about sexting does not work, but we need to be educating them about the morality of sharing sexts, says Faye Mishna, a professor and dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto.
In separate interviews with CBC's Metro Morning and CBC's Superior Morning Radio, Mishna said sexting – sharing intimate images by text – is part of the social culture and is here to stay, but it isn't necessarily a problem.
“Sending a text does not have to be problematic. Especially now with cybertechnology, for young adults, for youth, for older adults, it can be part of courting,” she said in the Metro Morning interview.
Sharing without consent "is definitely not okay,” she said, later calling it immoral. “It is also illegal.”
She said that telling young people to stop sending sexts to avoid them being shared puts the blame on the wrong person – the person who sent the message, rather than the person who chose to share it.
Mishna is the academic lead of a report for MediaSmarts called “Non-Consensual Sharing of Sexts: Behaviours and Attitudes of Canadian Youth.” The study found that four in 10 young Canadians have sent a sext and more than six in 10 have received one.