The pandemic has caused an increase in online child luring. Here is how you can keep children safe
New numbers out of Statistics Canada show a disturbing increase in both online child luring and the making and distribution of child sexual abuse material during the pandemic.
According to the data, reports of online child luring rose by 15 per cent, and reports of making and sharing child pornography rose by 27 per cent since before the pandemic.
Signy Arnason, associate executive director with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, said these increases have to do with the fact that kids are spending more time at home and online.
“If you’re talking about pornography-related offences or child sexual abuse material, those offences are often committed within the home,” she said.
“Children are abused and recorded and that is shared online.”
Arnason added that there is also the fact that children, particularly teenagers, communicate with others online. She said this presents vulnerabilities, including being extorted and being asked for sexual images.
She noted that there are even online discussions on the Dark Web where predators are celebrating the idea that children will be more accessible online, and sharing tactics and tricks to lure children.
“There’s a whole orchestrated thing that’s happening on the Internet on the other side as to how offenders can be committing these crimes against children,” Arnason said.
“Until the Internet is regulated, which we’re certainly pushing for, parents have to be acutely aware of this and be on top of these discussions with their kids.”
Arnason noted that predators are finding ways to talk to children through apps or websites with a chat component. She said in some instances, predators will get kids to believe they are speaking with someone in their age range and will record them, asking them to get nude over a webcam.
WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO?
Arnason said it is important for parents to be open and honest when having these conversations with their kids, but still remain developmentally appropriate.
“You really have to invest the time to understand the applications they’re using and have a good dialogue,” she said.
“And ensure your kids know they can come to you regardless of what happens to them online or what they’re worried about.”
Arnason noted to be aware of what is known as ‘attention bombing,’ where someone is being overly persistent and complimentary.
“Those are absolutely tactics that are utilized to get kids to do things online,” she said.
She said if children find themselves in a situation where they are at risk, they should immediately cut off communication with the other person.
“Talking to kids about immediately coming off of those applications and then coming forward with those concerns I think are really important steps that parents can be chatting with their kids about.”
- With files from CTV’s Renee Rodgers.