Public Safety Canada Announces Expansion of National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet

Backgrounder

Online child sexual exploitation is one of the digital age’s most pressing safety issues and it continues to increase in scope, reach and impact. The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous crime and is a serious concern for the Government, law enforcement agencies and partners in other levels of government and internationally.

The technological landscape has changed considerably in the past decade and technological advances have facilitated the easy, borderless access to, and sharing of, large quantities of images and videos of children being sexually exploited. In addition to the growing volume of child sexual abuse material online, technological advances have led to emerging trends such as self-generated materials and sexting, sextortion, grooming and luring, live child sexual abuse streaming and made-to-order content.

International Partnerships

The 2019 Five Country Ministerial held a roundtable on online child sexual exploitation and abuse that included participation from Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Google, Snap, and Roblox. Ministers reiterated their expectations that digital industry will make it a priority to create a safer online environment for children, and agreed to continue to work cooperatively to combat this vile and despicable criminal activity.

National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet

In partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Justice Canada and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P), a not-for-profit organization responsible for operating Cybertip.ca, Public Safety Canada (PS) launched The National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet in April 2004. Today, the Government of Canada announced the expansion of the National Strategy.

The objectives of the National Strategy are to:

  • increase law enforcement’s capacity to combat child sexual exploitation;
  • support the operation of a national tip-line;
  • support research on online child sexual exploitation; and,
  • provide overall coordination, oversight and training.

The objectives of the National Strategy are to:

  • increase law enforcement’s capacity to combat child sexual exploitation;
  • support the operation of a national tip-line;
  • support research on online child sexual exploitation; and,
  • provide overall coordination, oversight and training.

PS coordinates and oversees the implementation of the National Strategy, and leads the development of online child sexual exploitation policy. PS also provides contribution funding to C3P to support their efforts to reduce the sexual exploitation of children online and support victims/survivors, including through  the operation of Cybertip.ca  and development of education and awareness materials for children, educators and parents.

For example, C3P developed “Kids in the Know,” a kindergarten-through-grade-10 personal safety program designed to empower children and reduce their risk of abduction and sexual victimization, which is used by 60% of school divisions across Canada.

The RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC) is the national law enforcement arm of the National Strategy, functioning as the central point of contact for investigations related to the online sexual exploitation of children across the country, and internationally when the victim or offender is Canadian. In parallel, Justice Canada reviews and develops legislation, provides training and supports federal partners and stakeholders.

It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence

In 2017, additional funding for the National Strategy was received through the It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence (the GBV Strategy). $1.3 million is being invested annually to:

  • develop further public awareness;
  • enhance policy coordination and research; and,
  • enhance Cybertip.ca’s capacity to support C3P’s Project Arachnid.

Budget 2018 announced further investment for the GBV Strategy of nearly $6 million annually to enhance the RCMP’s NCECC’s investigation capacity.

Budget 2019: Expansion of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet

Building on GBV Strategy investments in Budgets 2017 and 2018, Budget 2019 invests an additional $22.24 million over three years. This funding supports PS’ efforts to raise awareness of this serious issue, reduce the stigma associated with reporting, increase Canada’s ability to pursue and prosecute offenders and work together with industry to find new ways to combat the sexual exploitation of children online.

The proliferation of online child sexual exploitation material demonstrates the need for the Government to continue to strengthen its response to this complex, escalating issue.

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