December 05, 2013 - 8:30 AM
'WE HOLD OUR GUYS TO A HIGH STANDARD'
PENTICTON - The Penticton Vees were way ahead of a 15-year-old girl who sent nude photos of herself to some of the players.
The team spoke to players about potential dangers coming through texts, Facebook or Twitter before she sent them.
"Those pictures were sent to a lot of people," general manager Fred Harbinson says. "Lucky for us I had talked to our guys and we had a meeting about it. I said, 'Look. If somebody sends you something like that, you think it's funny. But you know what? Delete it. Just delete it.'"
And if the material is "over the top" players are expected to report it to him or another coach.
The incident happened two years ago and the players weren't the only ones in town who got them. A now-22-year-old man was sentenced earlier this week for fostering a sexual relationship with the girl, which he continued even after he discovered her age.
These cautionary stories often focus on girls, like Amanda Todd who committed suicide after dealing with the chaotic ramifications of sending nude photos online. But what about boys? According to the FBI website, the Vees have given solid information in recommending the activities be reported to authorities. And holding boys accountable saves a world of hurt for everybody.
"What people don't realize, what the kids don't realize, if you redistribute that (illicit) picture you can actually be charged," Harbinson says.
Every year the team educates players on how to conduct themselves in public and online. Players are expected to be role models.
"It's not like I'm saying our players never make mistakes but with our organization we hold our guys to a high standard. We expect our guys to respect the people around them. And it goes right from what they say, what they do and what they do (with) social media," he says. "We try and do a real good job of making sure our players understand the ramifications of what could happen. And also not to initiate things."
Things have certainly changed for junior hockey players. Back in the day, kids got in trouble for rough housing or mouthing off, maybe even theft. These days young people can face a judge for distributing nude pictures."It seems like there is a disconnect with these kids," Harbinson said. "They feel if you are not in front of a person and you go and send a text message, a Tweet or a picture out, you're not part of it."
"It seems like there are more and more issues everyday... with somebody dealing with this type of stuff."
Beyond sports, it appears school districts have few standards for what is taught, though they do try. School District 67 does not have a broad teaching policy on social media according to curriculum director Don MacIntyre. School officials are concerned of course about the pros and cons of social media but due to its ever-changing nature it's impossible to develop educational curriculum around it.
"It just changes too fast. The kids come in as digital natives," he says, already knowledgeable about the latest hardware and software.
Instead, individual schools focus on teaching students the advantages and dangers of social media and what is appropriate or inappropriate to put online.
MacIntyre says some teachers use social media as an educational tool to great effect while some elementary schools ban social media communication entirely.
Calls to the RCMP were not returned by the time this story was published.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013