ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit investigates the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet, and works to reduce harm through public education and prevention. Teaching young people – and their parents – how they can safely navigate and use the Internet is invaluable in protecting them from sexual predators.
IF YOU KNOW OF A CHILD WHO IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER OR AT RISK OF BEING SEXUALLY EXPLOITED:
- CALL 9-1-1
- CALL YOUR LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT OR RCMP DETACHMENT
- SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION ONLINE AT CYBERTIP.CA
+ WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY?
Child pornography is the permanent record of the sexual abuse of a child. It can be an image, an audio recording, a video, a drawing or a written story about the sexual assault of a child. It is created deliberately and can be shared easily through the Internet, online platforms and portable technology devices. Some offenders primarily collect and trade child pornography, while others seek direct meetings with children they have met online.
+ HOW COMMON IS INTERNET LURING?
Internet luring has become a growing concern around the world in recent years. Youth often receive unwanted sexual comments online, and many are asked by someone they know only online to meet in person. Perpetrators often gradually seduce their victims through the use of attention, affection, kindness and even gifts. In 2002, the Canadian Criminal Code was amended to include a new Internet luring offence, which makes it illegal to communicate with anyone under the age of 18 years for the purpose of committing a sexual offence.
+ WHAT IS SEXTORTION?
Sextortion is when someone threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people unless you pay them in money or goods, or unless you provide them with more sexual content. It is essentially blackmail. 
According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, here’s what you should do if you or your child is a victim of sextortion:
- Stay calm and don’t panic. Immediately report what has happened to cybertip.ca or contact police in your jurisdiction. If it is happening to you, the person is more than likely doing the same thing to others and this needs to be reported to the proper authorities.
- Immediately stop all communication. Deactivate (but don’t delete) any of the accounts you are using to communicate with the individual. Pay attention to any of the other accounts you may have linked to as the offender may attempt to contact you there as well.
- Do not comply with the threat. In other words, never pay money and never send additional nudes. Your situation will NOT get better by doing either of these things. If you have paid money, check to see if it has been collected and, if not, quickly cancel the payment.
- Keep the correspondence. Keep information such as the offender’s username(s), Facebook page, Skype ID and Western Union details (if payment has been made), along with any images and/or videos that were sent.
- Speak to a safe adult about what is happening. Remember that you are not alone. Reach out to a safe adult so they can help you get through this situation. Dealing with sextortion is too big to manage on your own!
- Report it! Report to cybertip.ca or call your local law enforcement agency and ask to speak with an investigator who works in child exploitation.
+ WHAT PLATFORMS DO PERPETRATORS USE?
- INSTANT MESSAGING/CHAT ROOMS: These offer real-time text conversations between users. Predators may pose as someone younger or of the opposite gender to talk to potential victims and convince them to send photos or videos, or to meet in person. Parents should make sure they know who their kids are chatting with and when.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Whether accessed through Internet browsers or specific apps, social media platforms are attractive to perpetrators because they can potentially open an electronic door to a large number of children. Young users can protect themselves by restricting access to their personal profiles and not disclosing personal information on these platforms.
- GAMING SYSTEMS: With the advent of online gaming, people are becoming more and more connected through video game consoles and the ability to talk and play games in real time. However, this can also open the door for perpetrators. Make sure your child knows to ask for permission before chatting with other online gamers.
- VIRTUAL WORLDS: These are online, multiplayer games were players can take on a virtual identity and interact with one another. But they can also serve as a forum for people who wish to meet up with others offline for sexual purposes. Children should have their parents’ permission before signing up to play any virtual world games, and parents should supervise their interactions while playing.
+ WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS A CHILD MAY BE AT RISK OF BEING EXPLOITED ONLINE?
There are many signs parents can be on the lookout for that may indicate their child may be at risk, including a child who:
- spends many hours on the computer;
- closes windows on their computer when you enter the room;
- refuses to say who they are talking to;
- is secretive about Internet activities;
- keeps unexplained pictures on the computer;
- receives mail, gifts or packages from someone you don’t know;
- makes unexplained long-distance telephone calls
- becomes withdrawn from the family; and
- experiences behavioural changes.
+ HOW CAN KIDS AND TEENS PROTECT THEMSELVES ONLINE?
- Never give out your real name, age, address, phone number or any other information, like passwords or the location of your school, to a stranger online.
- Use a nickname and never tell people your real name.
- Pick a password that is hard for others to guess and never share it with anyone except your parents.
- Remember that people you meet online may not be who they say they are.
- If someone you don’t know approaches you or makes you feel uncomfortable online, tell your parents and do not respond to them.
- Always check with your parents before entering a chat room and tell your parents about your online friends.
- Don’t send a photo of yourself to someone online. If anyone asks for a photo of you or sends you a photo, notify your parents or a teacher.
- Never agree to meet someone in person that you have met online. Tell your parents if someone has asked to meet you. If your parents agree that you can meet someone you have met online, make sure you arrange a meeting in public with your parents there.
- Do not open email attachments from unknown senders.
- Never respond to spam or junk emails.
- Remember that nothing you write on the web or email is completely private, and that any pictures you post will usually stay online even if you think you’ve deleted them.
- Think carefully about where you put your webcam — do not put it in a location that would give away personal information about you or your family.
- Always unplug or cover your webcam when it is not in use.
- Don’t enter contests, or buy or accept gifts, without first discussing it with your parents.
+ WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN ONLINE?
- Place computers in a high-traffic area of your home so you can monitor your child’s Internet use.
- Teach children how to exit a website quickly and that they should discuss things they see or read that make them uncomfortable.
- Get to know your child’s online friends like you would any other friend.
- Remind your kids to behave online as they would in public. Explain to them they should never write anything in an email that they would not want the world to read.
- Set up rules for your child. Agree when and for how long they can engage in online activity, as well as what sites they are allowed to visit.
- Maintain open lines of communication with your child regarding their Internet use. Ask them where they go and what they do online, and get them to show you.
- Get to know chat room and web-related slang. Ask your child to explain it to you.
- Check to make sure your child’s instant messaging program is set up so no one can speak to him/her without permission.
- Remind your children that everything they read online may not be true. An offer that seems “too good to be true” likely is.
- Encourage your children to use the telephone to communicate with friends.
- Pay attention to your child’s behaviour.
- Assist with the creation of your child’s online profiles.
- When signing up for games, provide a family or parental email address rather than your child’s.
- Find out what computer safeguards are used at your child’s school, the public library or friends’ houses. Consider all the places where your child could go online.
- Set an example for your children by following the rules you set out for them. Be careful of what personal information you give out and what files you download.