May 13, 2016 - 11:17 AM
An old-fashioned form of discipline, spanking, was used to punish a relatively new activity, sexting, in a court case in Salmon Arm this week.
While the judge’s ruling made it clear the beating — performed with a mini hockey stick and skipping rope in place of a wooden spoon — was unacceptable, a bigger question remains unanswered: How should we deal with this whole sexting thing?
It’s a word many of us never even had in our vocabulary growing up, but it’s schoolyard slang these days.
We heard in court how a smart, well-mannered 14-year-old daughter began to withdraw into her room, spending countless hours on her phone at night. Sexting — sending sexual messages and photos — was something her friends did too, and continue to do, according to the girl. There was a certain amount of peer pressure to engage in the activity.
Despite having her phone taken away by her parents, the girl continued to communicate with a young man via Snapchat on an iPad. When her parents found out she’d sent nude photos through the App, they gave her the choice of being grounded or getting a spanking. The rest is a contained in a court judgement that made headlines across the country.
We also heard in court that the day her parents were charged by the police, they were on their way out to meet with the family of the young man their daughter sent the photos to. We tend to focus on the girls when it comes to issues of sexting, cyberbullying and extortion — often picturing old men at the other end of the chat — but boys, local ones, are very much a part of this conversation too.
Judge Edmond de Walle noted in his sentencing decision the consequences and dangers of sexting have been widely reported on in the media.
“But I would suggest that there has not been one person, one expert or non-expert that has suggested through all the publicity, the way to effectively deal with that situation is to impose corporal punishment on a teenager,” de Walle said.
Now that we know what not to do, perhaps we should turn the focus to what can be done. We know the devastating effects this sexting trend can have on young people. Even if the parents in this case were wrong to act as they did, they were right about one thing: Sending explicit photos to others, even if you trust them, can change your life.
Here's a suggestion. Read and perhaps get your kids to read this story out of Vernon. If the cases of Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd seem unrelatable, hear these warning words from a young woman who was tormented and extorted for years after sending nude photos to a man she thought loved her.
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