Preventative Education on Sexting and Cyberbullying

Project Name

No Longer the Norm: Preventative Education and Awareness of the Law with regards to Sexting and Cyberbullying

Project Partners

Lead Agency: Port Cares
Partner: Steering Committee of the Niagara Youth Justice Committee

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Project Summary

This project will train community leaders on the law as it relates to sexting and cyberbullying. The training will educate community workers and youth leaders on the legal consequences of sexting, which is an offence under the umbrella of child pornography laws, and its impact on victims. A video will be produced jointly with the Niagara Regional Police, which will provide a key training resource for the project. The in-person workshops will be held throughout the Niagara Region for educators, community agency partners and youth leaders. As well, a webinar will be created and offered to the coordinators of the forty youth justice committees throughout Ontario.

Legal Topics for Training

The primary focus of the training is to educate community workers and student leaders about the law as it relates to sexting, self and peer Exploitation, and cyberbullying along with the serious impact of this behaviour on victims. This project will train participants in the parameters of the law, consequences of breaking the law, and how the law has been used in a number of sexting and cyber bullying cases.

Target Audience

This project targets the largely rural communities across the Niagara peninsula. Niagara is made up of several small cities, and many rural communities who are isolated by a lack of transportation. Port Cares has an extensive background in servicing clients from the rural areas along the Lake Erie shoreline, including Port Colborne, Wainfleet, Fort Erie, Smithville, Beamsville and Dunnville. The project will also offer training to the approximately forty Youth Justice Committees operating across the Province of Ontario that are composed of community volunteers.

Key Activities

The training project will be developed and implemented through two phases:

  • In the first phase, project staff and committee members will focus on clarifying the specific areas for legal training for each group of participants, developing the training materials and finalizing the outline of the workshops. Staff will work with the Advisory Committee, in particular, the youth who sit on the Committee, to identify the most effective training approaches- particularly for training of youth leaders.
  • The second phase of the project will include the implementation of the training using a train the trainer model. Approximately 10 in-person workshops will be delivered which would train approximately 400 people (for e.g., Youth Justice Committee members, youth workers, youth leaders etc.).

Need for Training

Over the past few years, people working in the area of youth justice have identified a serious problem among young people of sexting and cyberbullying – specifically bullying that incorporates pictures and messages of a sexual nature. Recent referrals have shown that sexting is an issue prevalent in the high schools across the Niagara Region and is resulting in dire consequences for youth both criminally and emotionally.

Innovative Approach

The focus of this project is a relatively new issue, specifically youth crime associated with the internet and social media. This crime is inextricably linked to new technologies that young people are increasingly accessing. The project is innovative in a number of ways:

  • the project aims to train both community workers and youth leaders so that the knowledge about the law will be accessible and available to young people
  • a video will be created as the primary training tool that will match our intended audience and will be easily able to be shared and available in the long term for trainings
  • the project focuses on youth teaching youth – leaders will learn how to use restorative justice techniques such as conferencing to resolve conflict that results from cyber bullying and peer-exploitation
  • the project is also an innovative way to spread information in rural areas that are more isolated and do not always have access to such training