Perth police Chief Pat Capello is urging young people to be wary of what they send on their hand-held devices.
PERTH - "Sexting" is a growing problem amongst Perth's teenagers, which police Chief Pat Capello is hoping to address with the youngsters personally.
Following an analysis of criminal statistics, “we saw a blip, in increase here,” said Capello, speaking during an interview after the Perth police services board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 10. “We need to do some prevention things here. Education is a whole component of crime prevention.”
Students at Perth and District Collegiate Institute have already received the talk, with a talk at St. John Catholic High School slated soon.
“It’s a crime prevention initiative that we have set up with regards to cyber bullying and sexting,” said Capello. “We are seeing an increase in some of these occurrences and created a program (which) we have delivered.”
Unlike other crime prevention talks, considering the sensitive nature of sending explicit text messages and nude or nearly-nude photographs, Capello and his team have designed the program to be specific to different grade levels, and, like the sex talk in elementary school, students are divided by gender for the sexting talk. Students are also broken up into smaller groups.
“It’s a lot more effective in smaller groups,” said Capello. By dividing them up between males and females, “you’ll have more frank discussions,” said Capello, with girls uncomfortable talking in front of boys, and vice versa.
One of the biggest surprises for some young people Capello has spoken to about sexting has been that “transferring images of minors is an offence which many of the students are not aware… this whole issue of sending these sexually explicit images and messages, they don’t understand the implications.”
Capello said that the PDCI talk was “well received.”
While some celebrities, mostly those who are famous for being famous, believe that their career gets a boost in Hollywood from “leaked” sex tapes, Capello stresses that “once it goes into cyberworld, it’s in cyberworld. You can’t take it back. They (young people) get it. They are starting to understand.”
Another challenge Capello and his officers face is when a young woman believes that she has found “the one,” and so she does not think that the relationship will turn sour – which high school romances sometimes do.
“That’s very challenging,” admitted Capello, with youngsters only thinking in the moment. “But relationships change. Then they start to get it.”