Parents encouraged to talk to children about online safety

Children can use online technology in amazing ways to do amazing things. Unfortunately, by doing so, they also put themselves at risk of victimization. This year on Safer Internet Day – Tuesday, 7 February, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection is partnering with the Canadian government and law enforcement to remind parents, educators and anyone else with children in their lives about the importance of having an ongoing dialogue with their children tied to online safety.

Safer Internet Day is held each year in February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people. Parents and educators are encouraged to visit the Canadian Centre’s Internet safety website, The Door That’s Not Locked (thedoorthatsnotlocked.ca), for comprehensive Internet safety information and to download age-specific Safety and the Internet brochures.

“Safer Internet Day reminds us of the importance of being involved in our children’s Internet activities,” said Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews. “Internet crimes – especially those involving children are increasing at an alarming rate.”

“Our Government remains committed to protecting our children by taking tough action against Internet sexual predators,” said Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson. “No parent wants their child to fall prey to a predator. We all have a responsibility to teach and promote responsible use of online and mobile technology, so that we can help to prevent online luring and child sexual exploitation.”

“Based on an analysis of reports to Cybertip.ca, we know that youth continue to be lured online and are vulnerable to victimization,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “Based on their development, youth ranging in age from 12 to 15 are susceptible to being groomed and manipulated by offenders. As such, parents need to be particularly vigilant and engaged in their youth’s online activities.”

In the spring of 2012, Cybertip.ca – Canada’s tipline to report the online exploitation of children – will release a research report on the issue of luring. Preliminary results involving 300 reported cases reveal:

  • 85% of identified luring victims were girls and 15% were boys;
  • contact requests were made in 18% of cases;
  • voyeuristic behaviour was seen in 31% of cases;
  • reference to child pornography was seen in 50% of cases; and,
  • threats were evident in 13% of cases.

“These innovative criminals are smart and engaging and know exactly what to say to capture a child’s attention. Manipulation is their tool and they know how to pick their targets,” said Det. Sgt. Kim Gross of the Toronto Police Service, Child Exploitation Section. “The lonely teenager, looking for contact with someone new and different is an easy mark. Before they know it, a meeting is set and things get much worse. Keeping good open lines of communication with your children is critical and education is and will always be the key to combating this criminal behaviour.”

The Door that’s Not Locked website was made possible through the help of the Government of Canada, TELUS, Bell, Shaw and Honeywell. In the coming weeks, with help from these partners, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection will be distributing more than half a million pieces of Internet and mobile safety information, educational activities and other resources to schools across Canada free-of-charge to coincide with Safer Internet Day.