Social Media -January 2020
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January 2020
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Youth and Social Media

Social media and technology has changed the way we live our lives, and can serve as a powerful tool to enhance education, communication and learning.

Unfortunately, among all the positive experiences online and with social media, we have seen a rise in potentially unsafe behaviours, as well as a developing dependence on digital devices and media. The lines between public and private, personal and professional are becoming  blurred.

It is important to keep pace with our use of technology as we learn to co-exist online as well as managing our digital footprint in the most positive light. We need our whole community to be aware of the legal and social implications to cyberbullying, sexting and general social media safety so that everyone‘s current and future digital footprint continue to be a positive piece of their adolescent experience. 
The 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey reported:
At some point in their lives, 17% of students had met someone through the Internet who made them feel unsafe, and this was an increase from 2008.

In the past year, 14% of students had been cyberbullied (including 23% of non-binary youth).  This is a decrease from 2008 reports.

6% of students reported they had cyberbullied someone else in the past year.
5% of youth with a phone used it on their most recent school day to engage in sexting (a decrease from 10% in 2013).

12% of youth used their device to watch pornography (4% of females had watched pornography on their last school day, compared to over 20% of males and non-binary youth).

Youth surveyed who used their phones to watch pornography were more likely to have also engaged in sexting on their last day of school (21% vs 3% of those who did not use their phone to watch porn).


Cyberbullying is using online tools like websites, social media or texting to hurt, humiliate or threaten others. It can include:

Posting or sharing false information or images about someone that will cause harm to them or their reputation – including sharing photos, text messages or emails without their permission.

Repeatedly sending someone nasty, mean, insulting or threatening messages.

Pretending to be someone else online by using their personal information without permission.

Excluding or banning someone from online games, chat rooms, social media pages, etc.

Creating websites, posts or polls to rate people by their looks – for example, asking people to "like" a picture if they think a person is a loser.

Sending viruses or malicious code to damage someone else's device.





As the law currently stands, there is no specific or stand-alone crime of cyberbullying.

However, when  bullying behaviour reaches the level of criminal conduct, the current Criminal Code of Canada contains several offences that capture this criminal behaviour. 
The following Criminal Code offences may apply to the behaviours associated with cyberbullying: 

- Criminal Harassment (s.264)
- Uttering Threats (s.264.1)
- Child Pornography: Making of, - Distribution, Production and Accessing (s.163.1)
- Luring a Child (s.172.1)
- Voyeurism (s.162)

- Intimidation (s.423(1))
- Mischief in Relation to Data (s.430 (1.1)
- Unauthorized Use of Computer (s.342.1)
- Identity Fraud (s.403)
- Extortion (s.346)
- False Messages, Indecent or - Harassing Telephone Calls (s. 372(1))
- Counselling Suicide (s.241)
- Defamatory Libel (s.298-302)
- Incitement of Hatred (s.319)






Sextortion is when online predators convince a person to take sexual photos or record sexual acts. They threaten to post the photos or videos online unless the person pays money or provides more inappropriate material.  In many incidents, youth are participating in this activity believing they are engaging with another young person.
Connections first start within social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) and then can progress to live video feeds (e.g. Skype) where youth engage in sexual behaviours that are secretly recorded by offenders over webcam. A network of people who devote their time to capturing images of young girls and boys are known as “cappers”. This is extortion and is a Criminal Code offence (s.346). 




The federal government recently passed Bill C13 which prohibits the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Bill C13 also gives the courts and law enforcement more powers to respond to criminal online behaviour, such as ordering the removal of intimate images and accessing evidence from the Internet and other new technologies.  
The law defines an “intimate image” as one that shows a person exposing their breasts, genitals or anal region, or depicts them engaged in explicit sexual activity (meaning acts involving nudity or intimate sexual activity, but not including activities like touching or kissing).

If you take or share a naked or “sexually explicit” image of yourself or someone else, you could be charged with a Criminal Code offence such as the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image or child pornography.

In Canada, it‘s a criminal offence “to share intimate images without the consent of the person in the image.” If that describes what‘s happened to you, you may want to talk to a lawyer, report it to   
CyberTip or contact the police.The police have the power to force someone to take down and stop spreading the image. It is important to note that currently no youth in Canada has ever been charged for sending consensual sexts, so it‘s very unlikely that you‘ll be charged unless you shared the photo and it included someone other than you who did not give their consent.








1. You can start by asking the person who shared it to take it down or stop sharing it. Kids report that this works more often than not!

2. Ask the service or platform where it was shared to take it down. If you’re under 18, they may be required by law to take it down, and most also have a policy of taking down any photos that were shared without the subject’s permission.

3. Do a reverse image search with a service like TinEye or Google to see if the photo has been posted anywhere else. If it has, repeat step 2.

4. No matter what, talk to somebody! If you can’t talk to your parents, talk to a friend or a helpline like Kids Help Phone (call 1-800-668-6868) Having a photo shared without your consent – even if it’s just an embarrassing one – is really stressful, and you shouldn’t have to deal with it alone.




The age of consent is the age at which a young person can legally agree to sexual activity. Age of consent laws apply to all forms of sexual activity, ranging from kissing and fondling to sexual intercourse.

The age of consent to sexual activity is 16 years. In some cases, the age of consent is higher (for example, when there is a relationship of trust, authority or dependency).
In other words, a person must be at least 16 years old to be able to legally agree to sexual activity with an adult.

A 14 or 15 year old can consent to sexual activity as long as the partner is less than five years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person. This means that if the partner is 5 years or older than the 14 or 15 year old, any sexual activity is a criminal offence.





It is always suggested that students elect to speak to someone face-to-face if possible rather than through social media platforms as context is less likely to be lost in translation.

Student behaviour online should reflect personal, classroom and school community values. This means that the expected behaviour of students is the same both in person and online. 

All users must strive to utilize the Internet the safest way possible. Students should avoid exchanging excessive personal information that may impose risk on the safety of a person, including: exact birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, pictures, social insurance number. Students should not share their passwords, even with close friends and should strive to have rotating passwords.
Users must not impersonate or use someone else’s identity online (commonly known as catfishing). This includes creating fake profiles and deliberately compromising another person’s social media accounts. Impersonation online is fraud, which is a criminal offence.

Students are strongly advised to consider reporting any content or behaviour, to a trusted adult, that is inappropriate, compromising, illegal, or not suitable for a school environment. A good tool to report something anonymously is the ERASE reporting tool (also included in the Resources list). 
Youth should refrain from posting/sending/communicating/messaging anything that is hateful, hurtful, or disrespectful to another individual. Students are prohibited from engaging in any cyberbullying related behaviour.

Students are encouraged to only “friend” or accept invitations from people they know to best control access and share information with people they know. Students should utilize the privacy settings available to control access to their network and personal information.

Students are to respect the privacy of others. They are not permitted to use a mobile device to capture or post an image or a voice recording of another individual without that individual’s permission. This may also include online posting or electronic distribution of inappropriate pictures, intimate images or videos (real or altered), without the consent of the person reflected in the images.




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Parents are encouraged to have frequent proactive discussions with their children around their use of the internet and social media applications. This should be done in a non-judgmental and supportive manner and not intended to punish behaviour. Research shows that teens who discuss social networking websites with their parents behave safer online. You want your child to be able to actively come to you with any trouble they are having online.
Set up agreements and guidelines for how you expect your child to use the device or computer that you gave to them. If it helps, have both the parents and the child sign and date this agreement. An example of a best practice is having the child write down his or her social media passwords on a piece of paper and then have the child sign it along with their parents. This paper is then put in a sealed envelope and put on the fridge or a secure place. If the
parent feels the need to open the envelope, they must be prepared to have a discussion with their child around their concerns.

Encourage your child to report behaviour that they feel is inappropriate or crosses boundaries.

Stay informed – the applications and trends are changing every day and youth like to stay current on emerging social media platforms.




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Use a strong password. The longer it is, the more secure it will be.

Use a different password for each of your social media accounts.

Set up your security answers. This option is available for most social media sites.

If you have social media apps on your phone, be sure to password protect your device.

Be selective with friend requests. If you don’t know the person, don’t accept their request.  It could be a fake account.

Click links with caution. Social media accounts are regularly hacked. Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post.

Be careful about what you share. Don’t reveal sensitive personal information ie: home address, financial information, phone number. The more you post the easier it is to have your identity stolen.
Become familiar with the privacy policies of the social media channels you use and customize your privacy settings to control who sees what.

Protect your computer by installing antivirus software to safeguard.  Also ensure that your browser, operating system, and software are kept up to date.

Remember to log off when you’re done.
Summary of Popular Social Media Networks  
Student Online Reporting Tool
Preventing The Sexual Online Exploitation Of Children  
The Door That’s Not Locked - Parent Resource
TELUS Wise Footprint (Keeping Your Digital Footprint Clean)
Get Cyber Safe -Government Of Canada Resource On Topics Ranging From Cyberbullying, Identity Theft, Current Online Scams
Net Smartz - Age Appropriate Resources To Teach Children To Be Safe On And Offline
Words Wound -Cyberbullying Specific Prevention For Youth  
Need Help Now -Removal Of Posts And Images Online  

ERASE Bullying – Ministry of Education
Safer Schools Together
Carlton University
University of Victoria
2018 Adolescent Health Survey

Greater Victoria School District Substance Use Philosophy and Goals
The Greater Victoria School District is committed to providing safe and healthy learning environments for all students. As part of our approach, we have been focusing on mental health and substance use topics to help us promote well-being in our schools.

Substance use is a complex topic that often highlights varied philosophies, myths, and a great deal of fear. The research shows us that early interventions, particularly around critical thinking and decision making, has an impact on delaying use in youth. As well, open dialogue with adults, intentionality around attachment, and a focus on the 

factors that contribute to substance use, as opposed to the actual substances, also prevent, delay and reduce substance use in our students.

Our goal is to create a more cohesive, systematized substance use plan focusing on social emotional learning, that includes our youth and schools, community partners, and families. We strive for a shared vision, common language and consistent messaging over time, in order to support positive youth culture and a healthy perspective on substance use and mental health. 

In B.C. the legal age for alcohol and cannabis consumption is 19 years old.
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