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In this article, we argue that these actors have erred in their construction of youths’ risqué imagery as inherently risky and thus governable.
An individual who has 10 sexual partners with whom they consistently and correctly use condoms has an exceedingly low risk of contracting an STI compared to an individual who has sex with only one person and does not use a condom .Moreover, as Klettke and co-authors note in their systematic review of the literature regarding sexting’s prevalence rates, risks, and protective factors, researchers ought to be wary of drawing causal relationship between sexting and risky behaviours (, p. For example, individual studies may be methodologically flawed if they fail to consider the possibility and relevance of a third variable (such as a lack of progressive sexual education) that could explain the correlation between certain practices.As an example, while the long-term trend of declining teen pregnancy rates in Canada appears to have come to an end, at least for the moment, claiming that this rise is caused by increased sexting behaviours would ignore solid evidence that suggests “teenage girls are more likely to get pregnant when they have fewer education or employment opportunities to postpone child-bearing for” .Conversely, since the Supreme Court’s decision in , the purpose of which is to protect children from exploitation and abuse by prohibiting possession of material that presents a “reasoned risk of harm to children” . Thus, to remedy the law’s over breadth the court upheld the law’s constitutionality but determined that it must not be applied to two categories of material—minors’ “self-created, privately held expressive materials” and minors’ “private recordings that do not depict unlawful sexual activity” (, para. Indeed, the court went so far as to acknowledge that such imagery may be “of significance to adolescent self-fulfillment, self-actualization and sexual exploration and identity” (, para. As such, as long as youth consensually create and exchange sexual imagery with other minors with whom they are in an intimate and non-exploitative relationship, for their personal and private mutual enjoyment, such imagery ought to be constitutionally protected.When considering the dual concerns of protecting children and protecting free expression, Chief Justice Mc Lachlin, writing on behalf of the majority, found that prohibition against possession of child pornography “captures in its sweep materials that arguably pose little or no risk to children, and that deeply implicate the freedom [of expression] guaranteed under s. Despite the existence of this exemption, present day social, political, and extra/legal debates surrounding teenage sexting in Canada tend not to acknowledge the constitutionality of this subset of teenagers’ consensual sexual expression 5.Recognizing that the adjective risqué derives from the French , literally meaning ‘to risk’ 8, we nevertheless start from the position that “Nothing is a risk in itself; there is no risk in reality.But on the other hand, anything can be a risk; it all depends on how one analyses the danger, considers the event” (, p. We propose that extant frameworks, which conflate consensual and nonconsensual sexting and which equate both with negative risks that purportedly outweigh the value and benefits of the practice, rely on a calculus that is fundamentally flawed.For instance, a notice released by the Ontario Provincial Police’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit titled “Warning for Teens on Dangers of Irresponsible Texting”, claims: “teens need to become aware that …[sexting is a] risky activity [that] has very real dangers associated with it that includes many unintended consequences and permanent long term threats to their identity and reputations”  13.This caution is repeated in an undated “Message from your Local RCMP” which reads: “minimum sentences for child pornography offences can be jail time.Similarly, to equate queer sexuality with increased risk of harm relies on assumptions about the diseased and contaminating nature of that orientation and the sexual acts being engaged in.Heterosexuals, for instance, also practice anal sex in high numbers, whereas not all gay men do.