Government of Canada Awareness Campaign Addresses Growing Risk of Online Child Sexual Exploitation
July 12, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario
Online child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent and horrific crime that causes victims to suffer devastating and long-lasting consequences. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting children from sexual exploitation of any kind.
Today, the Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair, announced the start of the next phase of the Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE) Public Awareness Campaign. The campaign aims to reduce the stigma associated with reporting OCSE by raising awareness of this serious issue with potential victims and their guardians. The campaign also aims to increase the likelihood of an incident being reported to Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline to report the online sexual exploitation of children.
OCSE in Canada has increased exponentially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as children and teens have been spending more time online, yet many people are not aware of how serious the problem is in Canada – or how devastating the impacts are on its victims.
Youth are vulnerable to being tricked or coerced into online encounters of a sexual nature. The summer vacation period provides offenders with increased access to digitally connected youth, increasing risk levels. Individuals looking to exploit them go so far as to gather online to share “best practices” for targeting children.
A practice that has gained momentum during the pandemic is “capping,” where “cappers” record sexual videos or take screenshots of nude children – often without the child’s awareness. Cappers gravitate towards social media platforms commonly used by youth, and then use these platforms to obtain sexual images and extort their victims for money or for more images.
The campaign will be seen on digital platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Native Touch (mobile), streaming platforms, search engines and news websites), and will run from today, July 12, 2021 to August 8, 2021.
“This public awareness campaign is important as we work to protect youth from online child sexual exploitation. It highlights that when children are online, they are never really alone. We hope that those who care for children and teens can leverage the information and tools we have created to become more aware of the risks — and effectively communicate them to kids. We want to help them navigate predatory behaviour that takes place on the internet, on social media, and in youth-friendly applications and games.”
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Over 4.3 million child sexual exploitation reports were processed by Cybertip.ca from 2014 to 2020.
There has been an 88 per cent increase in the reporting of sextortion and other online exploitation of youth since the pandemic began.
Nearly one in four parents have come across inappropriate behaviour online aimed at their child.
Thirty-nine per cent of luring attempts reported to Cybertip.ca in the last two years involved victims 13 or under.
Public Safety Canada leads the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet in partnership with the RCMP, Justice Canada and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a non-governmental organization.
Building on investments in Budgets 2017 and 2018 to combat online child sexual exploitation, Budget 2019 expanded National Strategy investments with an additional $22.24 million over three years to better protect children. That $22.24 million included $15 million to enhance the capacity of Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Units in provincial and municipal police forces.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
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