20 Intimate Images, Nudes, Sexting and Sugaring

 

Far too often, the language and research surrounding sexting can be very confusing to parents and youth. The list of definitions below is how we classify and use terminology specific to this chapter. We believe these are the most accurate and clear definitions of these commonly used terms.

Sexting

Sexual communication of any kind between technological devices. These behaviors include both sexual messages that may or may not include nude imagery depicting partially naked or fully nude genitalia.

Nudes & Intimate Images

Visual media either photograph or video that contains an individual’s genitalia exposed.

Sextortion

Threats, or actions of distributing nude/intimate images that are weaponized for the purposes of extortion and blackmail for financial, social, and other personal gains.

Distribution of Intimate Images

Knowingly publishing, distributing, transmitting, selling, making available, or advertising an intimate image of a person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent or being reckless as to whether or not that person gave their consent.

Pornography

Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity used in the entertainment industry.

 

Current Data on Sexting and Sharing Nudes

In 2018, Media Smarts Canada found that 41% of teens they interviewed had sent a sext and that 42% stated that the sext that they sent, with consent and trust, did not stay private and went public. Media Smart Canada also found:

  • 18.5% of middle and high school students have received a sexually explicit image
  • 14% of middle and high school students have received a sexually explicit image from a romantic partner
  • 13% of students reported sending a sexually explicit image
  • 11% of students reported sending a sexually explicit image to a romantic partner

The difference between “sexting” and “nudes” is quite different and should indicate caution when reading news reports about teen sexting, as most reports use the definition of “sext” broadly as highlighted in the above definitions. When it actually comes to nudes, numbers are much lower. In addition, of those teens who are sending nudes, it often occurs between romantic partners.

When we looked at the reasons why teens will send nudes we were able to identify 5 reasons:

  1. Maladaptive attention-seeking behaviour especially with pre-teens and younger teens
  2. Relationship building – older teens and adults
  3. Personal gain to obtain property, goods, money by selling or exchanging intimate images or videos
  4. Peer Pressure – especially in a relationship
  5. Tricked or criminally extorted

 

Canadian Law

Many parents believe that sending an intimate image is illegal. However, in two Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decisions; R vs Sharp 2001 and R vs Barbash 2015, the court recognized that it is not illegal in Canada for two consenting teenagers, under the age of 18, to possess or carry nude imagery of one another for personal use; this is commonly referred to the “Private Use Exception.” The Private Use Exception was created under the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So, to be clear for those reading this book, if the distribution of an intimate image is taking place between two consenting teens under the age of 18 years who are in a legal relationship, and the consensual image is strictly kept private within the relationship, then the police and the courts will not get involved. Canada is a very unique country in how its laws and case law rulings have addressed nudes and sexting.

These Supreme Court rulings have also been applied in provincial courts. In the situation of teens sending and receiving images with technology case (R. v. M.B., 2016 BCCA 476) provides further interpretation on teens “sexting”

 

[80] Further, I agree with the trial judge that s.163.1, as it was interpreted in Sharpe, does not prevent teenagers from “sexting”. They can readily do so provided that they keep intimate images or videos of themselves strictly for private use such that they come within the Sharpe exception. Any question concerning the breadth of these exceptions is relevant to s.7 of the Charter and not to s.15.

 

Age of Consent in Canada:

In Canada, when someone is 16 years of age, they are able to consent to sexual activity with a person who is 14 years of age or older. The only exception would be when the older person is in a position of power, trust,  or authority such as a  teacher,  babysitter,  police officer,  doctor, etc. Although the age of consent is 16, there are what are known as “close-in-age exceptions” that applies to only teens who are 14 and 15 years:

When a teen is 14 or 15 years old they are able to consent to sexual activity with a person who is LESS than 5 years older than them.

14-years-old:

  • Can consent to sexual activity with a teen up to the age of 18.

15-years-old:

  • Can consent to sexual activity with someone up to the age of 19.

See the Canadian Department of Justice website for source information and law https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/clp/faq.html

 

Close in Age Peer Experimentation Exceptions

  • Applies only to 12 and13-year-olds
  • When someone is 12 or 13 years old, they are able to consent to sexual activity with a person who is LESS than 2 years older than them.

12-years-old:

  • Can consent to sexual activity with someone up to the age of 13.

13-years old:

  • Can consent to sexual activity with someone up to the age of 14.

 

Criminal Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images:

When we looked at the reasons why a person under the age of 18 would non-consensually  redistribute and intimate image or video, we were able to identify three reasons:

  1. Boasting rights with peers – “look at how many nudes I have”
  2. What they believe to be a form of humour directed at another person
  3. As a weapon or threat after a breakup

If an intimate image or video, taken without consent, is distributed beyond the privacy of a legal relationship, then there are two sections of the Criminal Code of Canada that could apply where a teen or adult could be arrested:

Section163.1 CCC “child pornography “refers to any written or visual representation, whether photographic, files, or video made by any mechanical or electronic means that:

  • Shows or depicts a person who is, or appears to be under the age of 18engaging in (or depicted as engaging in) explicit sexual activity.
  • Shows its dominant characteristic as the depiction of a sexual organ or the anal area of a person under the age of 18years.
  • Advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of 18years.

Section 163.1 (4) Producing/Possession/Distribution and 163.1 (4.1) Accessing

  • The charge is against the person who distributes the photo, not the person who creates it

If convicted under this section of the CCC, a teen would also be required to register with the National Sex Registry which is a designation and a requirement for life.

It is important that the reader understands that Canadian law enforcement is very hesitant about charging a teen under these sections of the Criminal Code.  Also, the intent and spirit of these sections of the criminal code were designed to deal with pedophiles and not teens who are often using technology to sexually experiment.

In 2014, the Canadian government enacted a new law that is known as the Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Law:

SectionCCC162.1(1) Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images.

Everyone who knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits, sells, makes available, or advertises an intimate image of a person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct, or acts recklessly as to whether or not that person gave their consent to that conduct, is guilty of…

  • an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
  • an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(2) In this section, intimate image means a visual recording of a person made by any means including a photographic, film, or video recording, in which the person is nude, is exposing their genital organs or anal region, or their breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity;

(b) in respect of which, at the time of the recording, there were circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy; and

(c) in respect of which the person depicted retains a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time the offence is committed.

This new section of the Criminal Code basically says that it doesn’t matter if you are over or under the age of 18; if you send, show, or distribute an intimate image or video outside of a  legal relationship without the consent of the person(s) in that picture or video, then you can be arrested, charged, and convicted and even go to jail for a maximum of 5 years. Unlike section 163 CCC, if convicted under section 162.1(1) CCC, a teen, or even an adult, will not have to register with a sex registry. This new section of the Criminal Code has now become the primary section that law enforcement will use when a person weaponizes an intimate image or video that is used against another person no matter the age. Although we don’t like the name, many in Canada know this new section as the “Revenge Porn” section of the Criminal Code.

We also think it is important to note that depending upon the circumstances of the distribution, police may elect to proceed by way of an external restorative justice process rather than a court process. This is something that we as a company fully endorse in reasonable circumstances.

 

So now that we have a clearer picture of where the current Canadian criminal case law stands on the issue of the distribution of an intimate image or video, what should a parent do when a student discloses the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image to them?

 

Steps to Take When Images Are Distributed or Threatened To Be Distributed

Once a problematic sexting instance has been brought to your attention, there are various steps to take, and situation-dependent circumstances to consider when helping your child.

Step #1: Don’t Panic and Assess the Situation:

  • Do not over-react. Remember your child needs your support and not your criticism
  • Does the picture or video show nudity? If so, how much?
  • Does the picture or video show a youth’s genital organs, anal region, and/or breast/nipple? Is your child engaged in explicit sexual activity?
  • Is the image sexualized, showing skin, but still covering a student’s genital organs, anal region, or a breast/nipple – e.g. a bathing suit-  and not depicting students engaged in explicit sexual activity
  • Where has the picture or video been posted?
  • Who do you believe has the picture or video?

Often parents and teens believe that a picture that shows a bra and/or underwear is a “nude,” when legally, it is not. Asking the right questions is important to help determine the right course of action. It is important to your child know not to share the fact that they have done so with others at the school.

If the images do not fall under the category of nudes, they may still be considered criminal in nature depending on how they are being used by the other person. Consulting with your local police department would be important

Step #2: Determine Legality

After asking the right questions, if you are satisfied that the situation does involve nudes/intimate images, you now need to determine the legality of those images in how they are being possessed or used. If a teen is seeking help, chances are they either no longer consent to the intimate image(s) being possessed and/or someone has distributed the image(s) beyond the privacy of a relationship. As a reminder, if the images fall under the following parameters, the Supreme Court has granted protection:

Legal if:

  • Consenting legal ages
  • Both parties’ consent to the image
  • Nothing malicious is happening
  • No power imbalance (authority)
  • Image(s) have been kept strictly private between both parties

If the situation consists of either a violation of consenting legal ages, malice, power imbalance (authority), or distribution outside of the relationship’s privacy, take immediate action and move on to Step 3.

However, if the teen simply no longer consents to the image being possessed, it would not yet be considered a criminal matter, as the teen needs to inform the other person they withdraw their consent for the image(s) to be possessed, and further request that they need to be deleted. This is where our “Intimate Image Deletion Notice” that we have designed would be used https://www.thewhitehatter.ca/intimate-image-nude-deletion-form.  If the other person does not acknowledge the deletion of the intimate images, makes threats, has distributed the image, or if there is credible evidence they have not deleted, it is now a criminal matter.

Step #3: Connecting with Police

Call the police and provide them with a verbal synopsis of the who, what, where, how, and why of what you have learned and the actions you have taken. Also, the police will want to speak directly with your child who brought this issue to your attention.

Step #4: Consider Notifying The School

This is especially important if there is a nexus to the school in any way, such as the distribution or accessing/viewing of the intimate image by others at the school, or on school property. Remember, you do not have to wait for the police investigation to conclude to initiate a School Act investigation. A police investigation is a criminal process; a School Act investigation is a civil process, and both have different investigational standards and possible outcomes. It is not uncommon not to have enough grounds legally for the police to proceed with a criminal charge, but under the School Act, there is the ability to hand out consequences for actions, which could also include a school-based restorative justice process.

 

Sext-Ed: An Asymmetrical Harm Reduction Approach

Having presented to over 500,000 teens from across Canada and the US, the topic of sending nudes or what adults call “sexting” – or in Canadian law is called the “distribution of intimate images”- is a hot topic of concern for many adults and teens alike. Nudes are nothing new, just go to any art museum and you will see that they have been around for centuries. However, what has changed is the ease for a teen to create and distribute their own nudes via technology.

As the reader can appreciate, although a real concern for sure, and as mentioned earlier in this chapter, sexting is not at the epidemic level that traditional media, and some adults, like to believe.

In many of the schools that we visit, the tact that many take specific to educating pre-teens and teens on this topic is an “abstinence” and “fear-based” educational approach; in other words, “don’t send nudes because if you do you will be arrested.” However, there is some fantastic research out there that shows us that the message of abstinence, or threatening arrest, doesn’t work so well. https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(17)30297-5/fulltext  Also, here’s a great YouTube video from a teen about the failures of teaching abstinence-based programs to their generation that is evidence-based https://youtu.be/PrU8ePlykJU

Having researched this issue for several years now, we believe there are several challenges to teaching an abstinence-based approach to sexting. Often, such abstinence-based programs place a strong emphasis on the criminal consequences of sexting, which can shut down the avenues of support and recourse when a nude is non-consensually shared with others. Why? Because many teens will not report such an incident to the police, or another person in authority, for fear of being arrested. The Crimes Against Children Research Centre reported that only 16% of teens whose intimate image was weaponized contacted the police or a person in authority. Compounding this concern is the fact that we also find that the Canadian law specific to sexting is often misunderstood and incorrectly shared with students in the hopes of scaring teens not to sext.

We believe that we must meet young people where they are in their sexual development in today’s “onlife” world, without judgment, and this is especially important for teens who are now being sextorted because of an intimate image. Like it or not, human intimacy is changing, and there may be times in a teen’s life where thoughts and considerations of sending an intimate image will be a reality.

It’s our opinion that we need to move away from the abstinence/criminal centric approach that is often taken when it comes to sexting and move to a more asymmetrical, holistic, educational/ harm reduction approach, combined with a criminalization message where reasonable and appropriate to do so. The onlife world is changing societal norms around intimacy. Is sexting always harmful? No. Is it always risky? Absolutely. We believe that there are no software, hardware, or criminal fixes to this challenge. We believe that age-appropriate psychosocial approaches are needed to share what the risks are specific to sexting, and what teens can do to help minimize those risks.

The topic of sexting is more than just sending texts, pictures, or videos; it’s also about consent, trust, and relationship abuse in all its forms. Rather than just concentrating on those teens who send nudes, we need to focus more on those who weaponize intimate images that have been sent to them with trust and consent. In other words, we need to stop victim-blaming! We also need to empower and educate bystanders who are forwarded or shown these intimate images outside of a relationship. Teens need to understand that such a breach of trust will not be tolerated and is illegal in Canada. We also need to educate the police, educators, and parents on how to sensitively respond to a disclosure of a teen, who comes forward to report that an intimate image that they sent has been weaponized and now being distributed without their consent.

Admittingly, we use to teach an abstinence-based approach to sexting, but for the past 5 years, at the high school level, we have now taken more of a hybrid abstinence/harm reduction approach that we developed with the help of teens. Yes, we still share that it is more desirable to not share an intimate image with others given that in 42% of incidents they get reposted. However, if they do, we then provide a harm reduction framework for their consideration to help reduce harm should the pictures become public.

By following this sexting protocol, if the image does go private, then your teen has “deniability”, they can say that’s not me that is someone else, which substantially reduces the emotional, psychological, physical, and social harms to your child.

#1: Make sure your face is not in the picture. This will help provide deniability if the picture becomes public.

#2: Make sure there are no scars, tattoos, birthmarks, or jewelry in the pictures that are specific to you. Again, this helps to provide deniability if the picture becomes public.

#3: Make sure that there is no identifiable clothing, like a school shirt, that is visible and/or is specific to you. Again, this helps to provide deniability if the picture becomes public.

#4: Make sure the background is neutral and not taken in your bedroom or your bathroom that can be identified back to you.

#5: Turn off automatic backup of photos on your device so that pictures are not uploaded to a file or the cloud. You want to prevent external access by others.

#6: Scrub all meta-data from the picture, such as the longitude and latitude of where the picture was taken or the type of device used to take the picture. Again, this helps to provide deniability if the picture becomes public.

#7: Lock your device and any file apps so that others who may access your phone will not have the ability to access any pictures on your device that they could copy/forward to others.

#8: Make sure your “Find My Device” application on your phone is turned on. If you have forgotten to lock your phone and you have misplaced or lost it, you can now remotely wipe any pictures that are on the phone.

#9: Use a translucent watermark of the name of the person that you are sending the nude to, and hide it in the picture so that it is not visible. There are several free apps on the market that will allow you to do this such as “PS Express”. By taking this step, if the person you sent the picture to now sends this picture to others without your permission, there is a covert digital bread crumb that will help the police to prove that the suspect distributed the picture.

#10: Make sure that you attach a message to the picture that says, “Not to Be Shared”. Here in Canada, this will help police with proving the offence of “Non-Consensual Distribution of An Intimate Image” if the receiver does send it to others outside of a relationship without your consent.

#11: Play copyrighted music in the background of any intimate videos sent.  Given that many (not all) popular social media sights are now using algorithms that do not allow videos that have embedded copyrighted music from being posted, it helps to reduce the risk of a video going viral on their platforms.

 

We know that for some parents and caregivers, you will not agree with the above-noted framework, and we respect your opinion as a parent. However, we hope that most parents and caregivers will understand that we live in a different world and if our goal is to reduce harm to teens, then we need to be approaching such challenges in a way that ties into where they are in today’s onlife world, is relevant to their life, and appeals to their intelligence and experience. We believe that this will help teens to make good onlife decisions when it comes to sexting. There is no such thing as “safe sexting,” but we can make it safer by reducing harm. This approach is also something that is supported in the academic research https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(19)30509-9/fulltext

 

Parent Tip

Remember, will the above-noted harm reduction approach to intimate images and videos “stop” the risks if they become public – “NO” –  WIll it “reduce” the risks “ABSOLUTELY”

A Tool to Help Cope with Unsolicited Requests For Nudes:

We also believe that an important component to dealing with this challenge is providing teens with tools and resources to help deal with the ever-increasing pressure to provide nudes. In our presentations, we ask teen girls how many of them have been asked for a nude. Consistently, 20-30% of their hands will go up. Often these teens tell us that such requests put them into a lose/lose situation. If they send a nude and it becomes public, they are shamed and called a “hoe,” “slut,” or “thot.” If they don’t send a nude, then they are shamed and called a “prude,” “ice queen,” or “tease.” This is yet another reason why talking about sexism with teens is so important in today’s discussions surrounding healthy human sexuality.

Hearing this concern, we here at The White Hatter initiated a project to provide teens with a tool to help combat unsolicited requests for nudes that we call the “No, It’s Rude to Ask for A Nude” project. Having presented to hundreds of thousands of teens from across North America, we have heard their message loud and clear; they really hate the fact that people who they usually know, and sometimes people they don’t know,  asking them to send nudes. As a result, we here at The White Hatter team wanted to provide students with a digital tool that they can use to help send a message to the solicitor that what they are asking for is inappropriate, and sometimes even criminal. These actions could result in punitive measures if they don’t stop. This digital tool is a digital image that contains this important message: https://www.thewhitehatter.ca/no-its-rude-to-ask-for-a-nude

 

 

We believe that “NO” is a complete sentence with no room for negotiation—a message this image clearly depicts. We also believe that the warning, “I’ve screen captured your message as evidence if needed” sends a clear message to the person requesting the nude that if asked again, there could be consequences to their request including being arrested for “Criminal Harassment” or “Luring” under the Criminal Code of Canada. Many teens are unaware of this fact and when we share this in our presentations, it is always interesting to see how many jaws drop.

We encourage teens to copy or download a high-resolution version of our “No It’s Rude To Ask For A Nude” image to their photo album on their phone so that they can send it in a return message to a person who asks for a nude.

 

A Tool to Help Cope with Unsolicited Nudes Being Sent

We have also heard loud and clear that teens are getting sick and tired of unsolicited pictures of genitalia, commonly known as a “Dick Pic” being sent to them. Often, we hear from teens that these types of images are just something you have to get used to. NO! they are not something that one has to get used to, and in fact, such messages/images can be illegal if sent unsolicited. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, such a message could be considered an “Indecent Communication”. Also, if the picture is actually a picture of the person’s genitalia, and that person is under the age of 18, then it could also be classified as the “Production and Distribution of Child Pornography” under the Criminal Code of Canada.

To help students fight back against this, much like the “No! It’s Rude To Ask For A Nude” image tool we developed, we have now designed a similar image tool that teens can send to a person who sends an unsolicited dick pic.

 

Download this picture into a phone photo album and use it when appropriate to do so.

We need to change that narrative where teens think it’s acceptable or even funny to send unsolicited nudes and dick pics to another person. Some will say, “What’s the big deal, it’s only boys being boys” NO! – such behaviour only exacerbates systemic sexism, objectification, toxic masculinity, and gendered risks of harm and is in fact illegal everywhere in Canada! Also, these messages can have a significant negative impact on a teen’s emotional, psychological, physical, and social well-being. It’s not funny, it is a crime! By sending this image and screen capturing the original message, it helps the police to deal with this issue if the person ignores the warning and sends a second picture – it creates an evidence trail need for an arrest where appropriate and reasonable to do so.

 

Remember, there is no technological/criminal-centric fix to the harmful non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Yes, we often find that discussions surrounding this topic primarily concentrate on abstinence, criminalization, and shaming, but such discussions do not resonate with today’s teens and their online world. We have found that the criminalization and shaming often shut down paths for teens when it comes to support and recourse if an intimate image has been non-consensually shared; this is why many teens will not come forward to report such an incident to parents, teachers, or the police. We should move away from abstinence/criminalization approaches to this topic, and start to concentrate on educational efforts surrounding consent, trust, relationship abuse, and discussions surrounding sexism. We believe that a “hybrid” abstinence/harm-reduction approach is what is needed to truly reduce harm to our teens on this important topic.

 

Sugaring, Sugar Daddies, and Sugar Babies

In 2014, a site called as “Seeking Arrangement” was the first to monetize “sugaring”, and since that time, this online industry has grown exponentially with many other sites popping up such as “Sugar Daddy Canada” and “Vancouver Island Sugar Daddy”, to name a few.

According to Wikipedia, sugaring is:

 

 “a dating practice where a person receives money, gifts, support or other financial and material benefits in exchange for a dating-like service. The person who receives the gift is called a sugar baby, while their paying partner is called a sugar daddy or sugar momma.”

 

In their beginnings, these so-called “dating” and “companion” sites were primarily targeting young female adults, sometimes males, especially those in college or university as a safe and secure way to help pay for student debt. In fact, in a January 2020 Daily Hive article titled, “UBC Ranks In Top 10 Universities With The Most Sugar Babies In Canada”, they found that there were over 300,000 sugar babies in universities across Canada, who had an income that averaged just shy of $3,000.00 per month https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/ubc-top-10-universities-sugar-babies

However, these sites are also becoming, out of economic necessity, a way to make “survival money” for single parents who have no other source of income to help pay for rent or to buy food and clothes for their child. In other words, sugaring often targets primarily women, sometimes men, who are economically and emotionally vulnerable. It is because of this fact, that like it or not, a sugar daddy starts from a clear position of power over many of the intended sugar babies that they can exploit, especially when it comes to teens.

A disturbing trend when it comes to sugaring, the increase in youth, those under the age of 18yrs, who are both knowingly and willingly involved in sugaring, or were randomly approached and solicited online by a sugar daddy. We have now helped two teens, and two 20-year-olds since January 2020 who were sugaring, found themselves in a dangerous situation and connected with us for help.

In order to sign up for a sugaring site, like Seeking Arrangement, you need to be 19. However, it’s easy to lie about your age, as there is no valid age verification mechanism that is used. So yes, those under the age of 19 can still access these sites. However, and with increasing frequency, unsolicited sugaring has moved to popular youth social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to name a few. On these sites, a person will send an unsolicited message to their target saying they are looking for a “sugar baby” and will pay good money for such a service.

As a company, The White Hatter has helped several families who connected with us looking for information and help, given their horror of learning that their teen was involved in this thing called “sugaring”, not knowing what it was or what they could do to stop it.

 

Case Study

In a recent case, we helped a family who connected with us because they learned that their teen who had just graduated from high school, and was now heading off to university, was sugaring. After we got involved, it was learned that the teen was sugaring to raise money to help pay for the $25,000 bill that they would be facing every year for the next four years specific to tuition, room, and board. This teen did not qualify for a loan and did not want to financially burden their parents given their age and life circumstances. This teen had been working a part-time job for the past few years, but because of COVID, they were let go. Given they could not find another job, they turned to sugaring as a way to help pay for their upcoming bills.

 

Case Study

In another case, we helped a family with a 16-year-old teen who was sugaring not because they needed survival money for room and board or college tuition, but rather because they wanted to enhance their culture of spending for material items for self-indulgent purposes such as clothing, fashion accessories (purses, jewelry, shoes, cellphones), vaping paraphernalia, or even tattoos. To them, it was an easy way to make money to enjoy their recreational lifestyle.

 

Here’s an Instagram text message thread that was sent to me by a family whose 17-year-old teen was involved in sugaring for survival money (Sugar Daddy = SD and Teen = T):

SD: Hello babe, I really admire your photo and I’ll like to see more sexy photos of you babe. Can you please be my sugar baby? I’ll spoil you weekly if you are interested. Please get back to me when you see this.

T: Yes, E transfer or PayPal

SD: Sorry where you from?

T: XXXX BC how about you

SD: I live in Riverside California

T: Oh Nice

SD: I am very serious about having you as my sugar baby honestly. I’ve been through a lot these past few weeks I just need to put my mind together and focus on new things.

T: Okay, so e transfer or PayPal?

SD: I don’t use those platforms like cashapp or Venmo coz I have a business account and I can’t link my card to any payment apps, my assistant use those apps but I want to keep this private.

T: Okay, how do you want to do this and what do u expect

SD: Do you have money deposit enabled? I can send you a virtual check-in your name no personal details needed and you can make the deposit through your bank mobile all it’s easy and very reliable. I just want your attention babe. I just got divorced and the past few weeks has been hellish for me. A friend advised me about this but I can’t go out to clubs or open places to get myself a babe that’s why I am here on Instagram. I just need another focus entirely to get off this emotional trauma. We can start with $200 weekly allowance and upkeep and if you impress me I might increase your allowance.

As the reader can see, this was not the first time that this sugar daddy had reached out to a teen; they clearly had a whole grooming script ready to go based upon past experiences!

 

Is Sugaring Legal?

Often, we have parents ask if sugaring is legal. Unfortunately, and depending upon where you live in the world, sugaring often skates a fine line when it comes to criminal law – check with your local police agency. Most sugaring sites, and those who engage in sugaring, make it publicly known that they are only looking for a “consenting companionship”, leaving how that consenting relationship evolves open to negotiation over time. Very few sugar daddies start asking for intimate images at the beginning of such a contractual relationship purposely to escape legal consequences. A good example, we helped a family whose 17-year-old teen was sending pictures of their bare feet to a sugar daddy for $25.00 per deck. This specific teen had made over $350 in one week sending pics of their bare feet.

Many sugar sites, and popular youth social media apps, where sugaring takes place to prohibit any discussion surrounding money for sexualized content and will remove any such discussions as a breach of their Terms of Service. This is their feeble way to publicly say that they are not promoting or encouraging such behavior to take place on their platforms. However, these sites are a gateway where people who agree to a sugar relationship, will now move to a private messaging service or app to negotiate terms that would otherwise be banned.

In Canada, under the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act”, selling sex is legal in Canada. However, advertising sexual services, paying for those services, and living off the material gains from selling sex, are illegal. However, in sugaring, the initial contact does not involve advertising or even the sending of sexual services. It’s about looking for online “companionship” – wink, wink. However, we know that with teens this companionship will often lead to hypersexualized pictures and text which the sugar daddy will pay a higher “allowance” for, with the ultimate goal of receiving highly sexualized pictures, video, and text messages which is always rewarded with the highest allowance. However, it should be noted that if the person sending the nude is under the age of 18yrs, then in such a business transaction they could still be arrested, charged, and convicted for the creation and distribution of child pornography.

Depending upon how the grooming process takes place in sugaring, a charge of “luring” or the “production of child pornography” under the Criminal Code could be considered, but likely very difficult to prove given the nature of sugaring. If consensual intimate images or videos are sent within the consensual sugar relationship, and then shared or distributed by the sugar daddy to others without consent, they could face further charges under the Criminal Code for Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images. If a teen requests that the intimate pictures/video sent be deleted, it is my belief that even though they were purchased by the sugar daddy in a consensual manner, even if for their own private use, they would still be in possession of child pornography, if the person depicted in the pictures or video is under the age of 18yrs in Canada. The challenge, identifying the sugar daddy to proceed with any of the above-noted charges, given that many will use the power of anonymity that the internet provides and the techniques used for ghosting their payment to prevent being identified such as the use of Bitcoin or PayPal.

Often, teens believe that online sugaring is safe and consequence-free because they do not meet the person face-to-face. However, what If the pictures, video, or text sent are now used to extort more pictures and videos from the teen, something we helped another family with recently. Yes, the sugar daddy could face a number of charges including extortion, but the pictures, video, and text are already out there and sometimes very hard to get deleted, the result of which can be very emotionally, psychologically, physically, and socially devastating to a teen.

 

Case Study:

Recently, we were contacted by a young woman, let’s call her Cathy, who needed help given that she believed that her Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts had been covertly hacked by an acquaintance she had connected with online. After a brief investigation, it was clear to us that Cathy had not been hacked, but rather she had been socially engineered online given her very public digital dossier, which was now being used as a weapon.

Unknown to us, Cathy who just turned 20, heard us speak as a young teen at her middle school many years ago. Cathy remembered the promise that we make at every school that we present to, “If you are ever online and need help and don’t know who to connect with, you can connect with us and we will help. If we can’t, we can connect you with someone who can.”

It turns out that starting at the age of 18, Cathy became involved in a subcategory of the online sugaring industry that specifically deals with submission and domination. Cathy agreed to share her story with us about how she became involved in this industry and the consequences of what she originally thought would be a quick way to make easy money.

While in her last year of high school, Cathy was getting ready to attend university and she had no way to pay for her education. She was working a job that would give her little financial ability to do so. At this time, Cathy read an article online about men who would pay for women to verbally, emotionally, and psychologically dominate them in private chatrooms. After doing some further research and learning that there was no actual physical sex involved, Cathy decided that she could be a “good actor” and say anything to anyone online if it would help her pay for university and all its included expenses. Cathy believed this was an anonymous, low-risk, easy way to make some money to help supplement the income she was making in the hospitality industry to help pay for her education.

Through trial and error, Cathy learned online that all she needed to do was to join Reddit and sign into a subreddit that was specific to submission and domination. After being certified by a moderator on the subreddit (proving she was who she said she was), Cathy began her journey into the online world of domination/submission.

Cathy created an account on Kik, a Canadian-based anonymous messaging app, where all communications would take place, and created a PayPal account that clients would pay into for her services. The subreddit was used to send potential clients to Kik so that further private and anonymous conversations could take place as to what the client wanted. Before any online submission or domination discussions took place, Cathy would direct the client to her PayPal account where they could pay for her services upfront. Once payment had taken place, all further engagements took place through Kik.

Cathy charged a $3.00 to $5.00 per minute fee for regular clients. For clients known as “drainers” or “rinsers” (clients who wanted her to drain their financial accounts as a form of submission), she would charge $20.00 per minute. There were also clients that she called “team viewers” where she charged a $20.00 per minute fee. These clients allowed Cathy to control their computers remotely (another form of submission), using computer software known as TeamViewer. TeamViewer is free, proprietary computer software for remote controlling, desktop sharing, online meetings, web conferencing, and file transfer between computers.

Soon, Cathy learned that sexual domination could earn her more money. Although Cathy stated that she never sexually live-streamed with clients, she did begin to sell full nudes of herself, in packages of 10, for between $15.00 to $20.00 dollars to clients who requested such a service. Although these pictures just started as simple nudes, it escalated to nudes of herself engaged in sexual behavior that a client requested. Cathy also admitted that some clients would pay her $20.00 to purchase underwear for her to wear. Some of these clients would also request that she wear the underwear that they gave her money to purchase, and then send it back to the client which she would charge a fee of $40.00.

Cathy stated that she would only spend 1-2 hours per day online with clients, and only worked online Monday to Friday. Given that this was primarily a text-based messaging service with clients, Cathy could do so privately on a bus to and from work, school, or during work breaks. Over a 5-month span, Cathy was bringing in approximately $800.00 a month, sometimes more, depending upon her client’s requests. Although she had regulars, she stated that many were one-time clients.

At first, Cathy stated that what she was doing offered her a real “ego/power boost” given that these clients would do anything she wanted them to do, called her a “goddess” or “mistress,” and they were willing to pay her money to dominate them. In fact, she used the word “addictive.” However, Cathy stated that the original ego boost has turned into a feeling of heavy shame, given that she hides what she does from her current boyfriend and parents. Given this fact, and because she was recently socially engineered by a problematic client that really scared her, Cathy has decided to exit from this industry.

Although Cathy believed that she was being careful about what she was doing online to reduce risks, it turned out that she did not take the precautions needed to minimize her personal online information. One day, one of Cathy’s clients began asking small, seemingly inconsequential questions about her life. Eventually, as she was asked more and more of these questions and she started putting the information together, she gathered that this social engineer had access to personal information about her life offline. Given that Cathy was not using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), it appears that this client was likely able to identify her IP address, which cascaded into identifying other personal information that led them to her personal Facebook page. Although Cathy did a pretty good job at securing and privatizing her personal Facebook page, there were still some vulnerabilities that she had not secured, which allowed the social engineer access to additional personal information and her true identity. Cathy’s aggressor was now using this information as a weapon, threatening to out her to her boyfriend, her parents, and her current employer if she did not do what they wanted her to do. In the hacking world, Cathy had been “doxed.”

During our conversations, Cathy also disclosed to us that over the past several years she has faced substance abuse challenges. Cathy admitted that some of the money she was earning online was also going to financially support this habit. Although we are not psychologists or psychiatrists, it’s hard not to draw a correlation between her addiction to drugs, which actually started in high school using the prescription drug Adderall, and her addiction to the online submission/domination industry. It is comforting to know that this young woman is now in counseling to help her cope with both challenges.

Cathy has a long journey of healing ahead of her, and we are so happy that her family is now playing a role in this journey. Although she had shared her story of drug addiction with her parents and boyfriend, she still has not shared her involvement in the online sugaring, submission/domination industry given the shame that she now feels. Cathy’s life in the sex industry does live online and could become public, and this is her BIGGEST fear. People often don’t think about the consequences of their online interactions given the disinhibition effect of the internet and social media. The internet and social networking NEVER FORGETS, but often teens, and even adults, forget this important rule. Remember, everything we post online is public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, copiable, and for sale, and as such, what we post can be used as a tool to hammer out a bright future, or in Cathy’s case, used by a social engineer as a weapon.

 

OnlyFans and Sugaring

Caveat: The young university student who connected with us agreed to speak freely about her experience with a social network called OnlyFans and sugaring, and provided us permission to share it with others on the condition that we kept her identity private for reasons that will become obvious. This student comes from what she identified as a “very traditional family”, and did not want her parents to know what she was doing to make it through the financial hardships of university, especially during COVID19. For the purpose of this article, we will use the name Vanessa, which is NOT her real name.

Very recently, we were contacted by a young 19-year-old university student (we will call her Vanessa) who heard us speak at her school 5 years ago. Vanessa stated that she remembered our presentation like it was yesterday, and also remembered that she could connect with the White Hatter Team anytime if she found herself in trouble online and needed help. Turns out, Vanessa’s Instagram account had been compromised and de-activated for some unknown reason.

During our discussions, Vanessa disclosed that other accounts she had were also showing some unusual activity including her OnlyFans account. For those reading this posting, OnlyFans is a private premium social network that allows the owner to privately share texts, pictures, or streaming video with a subscriber at a mutually agreed-upon price. Often, the content of this “private” service is hypersexualized or pornography-based, where you “pay to play” with the owner of the account.

As we began our discussions about the culture surrounding OnlyFans, Vanessa was very willing to share her thoughts and experiences. Vanessa was primarily using her OnlyFans page to garner “survival money” to help with the fiscal challenges surrounding university tuition, books, and living accommodations. Here’s what Vanessa shared with us:

  • She was unable to find full-time work because of COVID19 and is presently living at home.
  • Over the past 3-months, Vanessa has made just over $25,000 CDN on her OnlyFans account. Venessa’s specialty, hyper-sexualized dancing to music in a thong bathing suit, similar to what can be seen on TikTok, but even more hyper-sexualized. It should be noted that Vanessa stated that she has never engaged in any open nude or pornographic behaviour on her OnlyFans page. Although Vanessa has been asked to provide nudes on several occasions, to date she has refused even though it would pay her more money. As an example, another friend of hers in university has made close to $80,000 in less than 6 months, but this friend was selling nudes and performing live solo sex acts on her OnlyFans page.
  • Vanessa consistently has over 400 subscribers on her page, each of who pays $5.00 a month to have the ability to connect with her. If the subscriber wants special attention, then they will pay what she calls a “tip” to move to the top of the queue, these people are known as a “simp”. Depending upon what the subscriber wants Vanessa to do, there will be a further charge, her fee was $60.00. Most of her Only Fan private sessions last under 3-5 minutes, or the length of a song that she will dance to. Vanessa used the analogy of an adult entertainment bar to describe the Only Fan process – you pay a cover charge to get in, you tip your server for special attention, and then if you want a “private session”, you pay a further premium fee.
  • Many of Vanessa’s subscribers come from a public Snapchat account that she uses as a gateway to her Only Fans account.
  • On average, Vanessa stated that the person who connects with her will be a male around the age of 23yrs.
  • Vanessa stated that many of her subscribers just want to talk because they are looking for someone to listen and interact with because of loneliness, especially during COVID19 where many are self-isolating at home.
  • When we asked Vanessa if those who identify as male are also utilizing OnlyFans pages to make money, she stated “yes”. Vanessa stated that most males will use OnlyFans pages to sell live sex acts that they engage in with a partner, which lots of subscribers will pay to watch. The money is then split between the guy and the other girl/guy he is having sex with. We would suspect that many are willing and consensual participants, but we can also see how a human sex trafficker could force those under his control for online sexual exploitation and financial profit using this app.
  • Vanessa stated that someone new to the OnlyFans app can utilize the services of a “influencer” (someone who has a very large client base) to help promote their page. The catch, you need to pay this influencer a significant percentage of your profits as a “referral fee”. When we stated to Vanessa that this sounded like “digital pimping”, she did not disagree.
  • When we asked if she had been involved in any less than desirable situations or dangers, she stated “no” because she is very careful in what she does. However, she has heard of other users who have been extorted. In these cases, a client was able to identify the user’s real name, address, and social networks. They then threaten to publicly post screenshots and recordings of what the owner was doing to friends and family if they do not provide free content, or meet them face-to-face. It must be emphasized that anything and everything is done on an OnlyFans page can be covertly recorded without the owner of the page knowing.
  • In Vanessa’s case, it appears that it was one of her subscribers that was responsible for some of the digital issues she was experiencing.

Don’t get us wrong, there are people, especially those who are musicians and artists, who have awesome OnlyFans pages, but it is clear to us that this site has been co-opted by those who are profiting from hyper-sexualized and pornographic behaviour. Yes, OnlyFans pages are individually owned and operated, but there is no doubt in our mind that this site is a prime breeding ground for commercialized exploiters – Pimps, to both recruit and traffic the most vulnerable in our society for financial gain.

Apps like OnlyFans are becoming, out of economic necessity, a way to make “survival money” for teens, university students, young adults, and single parents who have no other source of income to help pay for university, rent, or to buy food and clothes for their child. Something we spoke to in earlier in this chapter. In other words, sites like OnlyFans are now attracting primarily women, sometimes men, who are economically and emotionally vulnerable. It is because of this fact that an OnlyFans subscriber/customer starts from a clear position of power that they can now exploit for money. Although Vanessa was over the age of 18, in the past several months we have helped several teens under the age of 18 who owned OnlyFans pages. These teens found themselves in dangerous situations because of the disinhibition effect that this app offers, combined with the lure of what they believed to be “easy money” without risk.

 

Financial Consequences

Another concern, we just finished a discussion with our business accountant and learned something very interesting! “Sugaring” would be considered a “service” by the Canadian Revenue Agency and therefore any money made, even if gifted, would be considered taxable income. It doesn’t matter to the CRA if the money was made legally or illegally. In fact, if a sugar baby has made over 30k in one calendar year, they would also no longer be GST exempt here in Canada. Although the CRA is likely not aware of the amount of money that is being made in this industry, they do have a tip line where anyone can anonymously report such activity.
If you are a parent with a child under the age of 18yrs who is sugaring, this may be another avenue to consider specific to consequences if the youth does not stop what can be illegal behaviour in some cases. Not only can the CRA claim money owed to them, but will also add interest on that amount owed where appropriate to do so.
This was actually a tactic that we used in policing when it came to drug dealers. Often, after a search warrant, large amounts of cash would be seized that we would notify CRA investigators about. Even if the accused was later found guilty, the CRA was able to legally deduct money that they calculated was owed to them from the money that was seized.
Again, what adults do when it comes to sugaring is their own business and not illegal. However, for those under the age of 18yrs, this may be another prevention/intervention tool in the toolbox that a parent could consider.
For the adults who are legally sugaring and reading this chapter, just make sure that you are tax compliant to help prevent the tax collectors from coming and knocking on your digital door looking for their cut.

What Is A Parent to Do?

Knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power, thus why I wrote this article. So, what can parents do?

  • Absorb the information in this article and share it with other parents. Check with your local police department to see if teen sugaring is illegal in your jurisdiction.
  • Never ever believe that this will never happen to my teen. If we had a nickel for every time we heard this from a parent we would be independently wealthy.
  • Trust your instincts, it’s a million years of evolution that we have been given to keep ourselves and our kids safe. If after reading this article your spider-sense starts to tingle, act on it, and don’t ignore it. You would be amazed how many parents have stated to us that they knew something was up, but they didn’t act until it was too late.
  • Ensure that privacy settings on their social networks and apps are set to only allow people they know to send them unsolicited messages. Most Apps like Instagram have this feature.
  • Teach them to block, report, and then delete anyone who sends them an unsolicited sugaring message.
  • If the teen is being extorted, we recommend notifying the police. Connect with us, we can help guide you through this process if needed.
  • Does your child have more than one cell phone? One could be for sugaring, and the other is for everything else.
  • Is there a change in your teen’s clothing and personal items without the financial means to afford such clothing and items?
  • References to e-transfers, bitcoin, and premium apps or online payment apps such as PayPal, Venmo, or WePay located on the teen’s phone. These are the common ways that teens will receive payments from their sugar daddy.
  • Do they have an “OnlyFans” account, where many sugaring transactions take place https://bit.ly/3kWOW42
  • The use of the word(s), sugaring, sugar daddy, sugar baby in their discussions either online or offline that you may become aware of
  • An increase in the frequency of deposits made into a joint bank account.

Is there some sugaring where there is just companionship without hypersexualized or sexualized behavior or interactions? Yes, but this usually happens in an adult-to-adult arrangement. When it comes to an adult to teen sugaring arrangement, it has been our experience that it almost always leads to predatory sexual grooming and exploitation and the production of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM).

 

Parent Tip

The best defence, have an open and honest relationship with your teen about their onlife world. The research has shown that those parents who engage with their teens online via parental communication and participation, those teens are far less likely to engage in less than desirable onlife behavior. However, sometimes the lure of what youth believe to be risk-free easy money can sometimes still capture a teen who comes from a loving, positive, supportive, and communitive home environment, no matter what their socioeconomic background. Something we have seen time and time again.

 

Update May 2021:

OnlyFans has blown up during COVID to where it is estimated that they now have over 100 million users, many of which are teens who have lied about their age.

Since we wrote this web book, we have now helped several teens, and their families, who found themselves in harm’s way, because of what they were doing on OnlyFans.  The youngest – 14yrs old.

Often what we hear from teens is, “Creating an OnlyFans site is an easy way to make money!” This is especially true if the teen is producing hypersexualized behaviour where there is no nudity, or when they inevitably turn to the creation of live pornographic sexualized behaviour because such content garners more subscribers and money.

We have also consistently heard from teens that we have helped, “We thought OnlyFans was safe because we are not in direct physical contact with the customer!” – teens believe that the internet and the OnlyFans site allowed a physical disconnect.

Although they may be “physically” safer, what about other forms of harm that teens don’t think about, such as the psychological toll from the constant degrading comments and objectification from the paying customer. It’s not uncommon that customers believe that the only purpose of an OnlyFans content creator is to feed their sexual desire. This can have a significant negative psychological, physical, and emotional impact on a teen over time!

Another danger, it’s often very easy to identify the true identity of a teen, given that teens are often not using the appropriate safety and security measures to protect their identities.  Anything a teen does on OnlyFans can be screen-captured or recorded without their knowledge; these pictures and videos can now be used for extortion, or what is commonly known as sextortion (this is what happened in 3 cases we were involved in).

OnlyFans does not have a search function so as a result, teens will often use their existing social media platform (Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok) as a way to advertise and drive customers to their OnlyFans page. These personal social media sites can often be accessed by a customer where personal information about the teen can be found, like their real name, address, place of work, or what school they go to. With this information, an ill-intentioned customer can track a teen to where they live and come knocking on their home door, or meet them at their place of work (this happened in another case we were involved in).

Again, because anything on OnlyFans can be screen-captured and recorded without the knowledge of the teen, these pictures and videos can then be posted on other sites, including porn sites, which now become public. Because the teen’s name has been tagged to the picture or video, they now become very searchable by friends, family, college/university recruiters, and employers. In other words, these pictures and videos are no longer hidden behind the privacy of a paywall on the OnlyFans site, they are now public for anyone and everyone to see, which could have future negative consequences to a teen. (this happened in another case we were involved in)

Another danger, commercialized exploiters – also known as “pimps”.  Often these commercialized exploiters will rebrand themselves as an “OnlyFans Manager”.  A shovel by any other name is still a shovel; a pimp by any other name is still a pimp! For a fee, a pimp will help a teen to promote their OnlyFans page. Pimps have clearly moved to using OnlyFans as a tool of recruitment, and it is pretty well guaranteed that a teen will be “in-boxed” by these predatory commercialized exploiters.

Another comment and mistaken belief that we have heard from teens is, “we are in control of what happens on my OnlyFans site.” However, this sense of control is actually an illusion.  What they don’t understand is that the customer is actually the one in control. Why? because the customer controls the money – if the teen doesn’t meet their demands, the teen doesn’t get paid. For teens who need the money because of social injustice or life circumstances (survival money), they often have no other option other than doing what the customer wants or they don’t get paid. This is called “exploitation” plain and simple!

 

Parents and Caregivers:

Sit down with your teen and talk to them about what you have read in this chapter.  Remember, knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power.  We need to educate our teens about this issue in an open and honest way so that they can make an informed decision before they join a site like OnlyFans.

Presently, OnlyFans is being glamorized in social media as a safe and easy way to make money, especially during COVID.  Based on what you have read in this posting, I hope you can understand that this is not true.  However, if we don’t start talking to our teens about the actual dangers, they will only believe the fake glamor.  If they still don’t want to believe you or us, have them watch this GREAT YouTube video from a survivor.

 

 

 

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Parenting In An Online World Copyright © 2020 by Personal Protection Systems Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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