More needs to be done to teach youth the perils of social media, says Diamond
SUMMERSIDE — Parents must monitor what their children are doing on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat and Instagram.
Prince County Courthouse.
That’s the message Crown attorney John Diamond hopes the public takes from the sentencing this week of a Tignish man charged with luring two teenaged girls via Facebook.
“The reality is that Facebook, though it seems to be a great social media tool where people are communicating quickly and easily, has to be monitored. Young children have to be monitored,” said Diamond following Wednesday’s sentencing. “People have to pay attention to what their children are doing with respect to interacting on Facebook. I know there are problems with bullying… with these requests for nude photos to be transmitted.”
These cases, unfortunately, said Diamond, are becoming more commonplace.
In recent years, there have been several cases tried in provincial courtrooms in both Summerside and Charlottetown, with the extent of luring involved ranging from graphic messages to actual eventual sexual encounters with young victims.
“For whatever reason, young children aren’t figuring out that what they are doing is quite serious,” said Diamond. “I don’t know how to get the message out there. I guess the schools should attempt to get the RCMP or local police to go into the schools and try to emphasize the seriousness of what they’re doing.”
In Wednesday’s case, images were found on the man’s computer, one of one of the girls he had been communicating with. Luckily, from what police could determine, it wasn’t shared on the Internet or with others.
But, said Diamond, that’s not always the case.
“It an ongoing problem and there doesn’t seem to be a solution.”
In order to be eligible to sign up for Facebook, users must be 13 years of age. But there are users younger than that who have profiles on the social networking site.
So, legally, is there anything that can be done to curb the site’s use by those who, according to Facebook’s rules, are too young to be users?
Unfortunately, there answer is no, said Diamond.
“We don’t have much control over what people are going to allow in their own homes with respect to access to computers and computer programs,” he said. “It’s pretty difficult to police. In fact, it is virtually impossible. It’s going to have to come down to the parents and the guardians monitoring what’s going on.”
He added, “Have communication with your children. That’s becoming more and more of a problem. Kids will be sitting in the backseat of a car communicating through text messages because they don’t want mom and dad to know what’s going on.”
Police are doing what they can to investigate such cases and, added Diamond, minimum sentences, as of Aug. 9, 2012, in luring cases are now three months for a summary offence and 12 months for an indictable offence.
“I see that as a deterrent. It should give some people some sober second thought.”