Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week kicked off March 11 and became the launching pad for a new campaign by Cossette Vancouver for Children of the Street Society.
The campaign, which uses a hand-written card trope on posters, outdoor ads and a YouTube video, is similar to the Amanda Todd video that received national attention after the 15-year-old’s tragic suicide last October. Todd’s video told her story of being bullied by classmates after she flashed her breasts on a webcam when she was in Grade 7 and the photo went viral.
“I can never get that photo back,” she had written on one of the cards.
The creative message for the pro bono campaign is that when you are online, there is no such thing as “just one photo,” said Stephanie Owen, program manager for Children of the Street Society.
“We are hearing from the schools that they are seeing a huge surge in young people being online and connecting with strangers who are potentially dangerous as well as sharing images from peer to peer,” she said, adding that they are now speaking to children as young as nine years old.
“We are trying to educate young people that what you are putting out there can be continuously shared.”
Cossette’s campaign tells the story of a young girl who shared a private photo online with someone she trusted. She is shown holding up a series of cards that says: “I sent a photo to someone I trusted and now, thousands of people I don’t know, know me.”
Michael Milardo, creative director at Cossette, said the agency worked with the blessing of Amanda Todd’s family. “Amanda’s case received a lot of publicity, but there are lots of girls and boys on YouTube using that system of the cards as a plea for help,” he said. “We found that kids don’t understand that the technology is powerful and unbridled, and once you put something out to the world it will replicate.”