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The Hammer comes down:
Sexting and the Law

The dire consequences this fad could lead to

By Linda Hammerschmid

Way back in October 2013, I wrote a column on “sexting” which has since become a pandemic in need of a legal solution.

At that time I discussed the case of Prosecutors in B.C. who had charged a 16-year-old with “disseminating” child pornography, and the need to sit your kids down and explain to them what dire consequences this fad could lead to.

Well, it’s no longer a fad really, it’s become a pandemic and we seem farther from, not closer to, finding a solution, on the criminal level at least.

Under our current Criminal Code, per Section 172.1 (1) et s, “every person commits an offence by means of telecommunication, communicates with…” and it goes on to refer to 3 categories of ages of minors (under 18, under 16, under 14), is liable to be convicted of “luring a child”.

… it’s become a pandemic and we seem farther from, not closer to, finding a solution, on the criminal level at least.

Section 163.1 (1) defines “child pornography” and Section 163.1 (3) sets out the offence for distribution etc., of such pornography, and if convicted, can carry a prison term of not more than 14 years; 10 years for possession.

But the issue being brought before the Courts next week is whether it is unconstitutional to apply those sections to minors themselves particularly in an age where “children” continually think nothing of taking nude body part selfies and/or forwarding the photos via their social media platforms.

As the issue of whether certain sections are or are not constitutional is at play, the Attorney General for Quebec is implicated in the case and is taking the position from the perspective of the victim and the dangers such widespread sexting practices cause to a single person, i.e.: the victim.

But the challenge to these sections should be also considered from the perspective of the person accused of the alleged crime and who, at the relevant time of the act, was him/herself a minor.

Shouldn’t our role as a just and fair society be first and foremost to protect all minors, even from themselves?!

It would seem that these sections in the Criminal Code were intended to apply to adult offenders and were not drafted with a view of punishing children.

Shouldn’t our role as a just and fair society be first and foremost to protect all minors, even from themselves?!

While the dire consequences of the Sex Registry Acts in, for example, the USA, do not apply here, a conviction under these charges still can remain with the child offender long after attaining adulthood.

So what should be the solution? How about parents, and school boards via government legislation, be obliged to sit the youth down and repeat, repeat, repeat all the issues that could and can ruin lives by continuing this mode of communication. And start the process in early grade school.

Have you had this discussion with your kids? The buck starts and stops at home.

Feature image: Pixabay.comBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.ca

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca, its publishers or editors.

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linda hammerschmid

Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law. You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show ‘Passion’ with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of CPAT (Caring Paws Animal Therapy), giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.


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  1. Beverley

    Just as parents must be the first to teach their children about inappropriate touching, they should be the first to teach about inappropriate communication by any method whatsoever, including social media – including inappropriate photography – and how any of this can come back on you later in unexpected ways.


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