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Raise cases of sexual exploitation of minors online

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Statistics Canada specifies that the rate of cases of child pornography has increased from 50 cases per 100,000 children and young people in 2014 to 159, eight years later. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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Effect of a increased online presence, greater awareness or more frequent reporting to law enforcement, online sexual exploitation of children and youth is growing in Canada, shows a Statistics Canada study.

Data released Tuesday by the federal body, covering the period from 2014 to 2022, reveal that the rate of cases of online sexual exploitation has increased in eight years from 50 to 159 cases declared for 100,000 children (0-11 years) and youth (12-17 years).

Online sexual exploitation includes offenses online sex against children and online pornography.

When it comes to online child pornography, the number of cases reported to police jumped from 32 to 125 per 100,000 children and youth between 2014 and 2022. During the same period, the number of cases of online child pornography increased from 32 to 125 per 100,000 children and youth between 2014 and 2022. online sexual offenses against children and young people reported to the police increased from 18 to 34 per 100,000 minors.

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According to Statistics Canada, this marked increase can be explained by a real increase in this type of crime, by an increased level of awareness and reporting among the population or by an increase in police resources and training. which allow it to better detect the sexual exploitation of children online. A combination of all these factors is also possible.

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Among the files of sexual offenses against children online, two in five (41%) are resolved by police and three-quarters (74%) of cleared cases resulted in charges being laid or recommended against an alleged perpetrator.

Statistics Canada adds that approximately one-third (34%) of online child sexual exploitation charges result in a guilty verdict.

Jacaudrey Charbonneau's report

Statistics also show that similar to trends in violent crime in general, particularly with regard to sexual offenses, Boys and men made up the vast majority of alleged perpetrators of sexual offenses against children online.

From 2014 to 2022, boys and men were involved in 97% of cases of incitement to sexual contact, in 96% of cases of child luring and in 90% of cases of possession of child pornography or access to child pornography.

Statistics Canada therefore records for this same period a total of 15,630 reported cases of child pornography. sexual offenses against children and 45,816 reported incidents of online child pornography in the country.

Certainly, these data are alarming, but the reality is often worse, says René Morin, spokesperson for the Canadian Center for Child Protection ( CCPE), a national charity that began nearly 40 years ago in Manitoba.

In an interview with Radio-Canada on Tuesday, Mr. Morin explains that with regard to crimes of a sexual nature, and in particular when the victims are children and it takes place on the Internet, these criminal activities are under -reported.

Although the police forces have better technological tools than before to combat this scourge, they are overwhelmed, deplores Mr. Morin. And the data collected by Statistics Canada is based on what was declared to the police. But for the police to report data, they must first receive reports.

What this report [ of Statistics Canada] does not show, these are all the cases that went under the radar of the authorities.

Mr. Morin cites as an example the case of a teenage victim of sextortion whose first instinct will not necessarily be to ask for help or talk to her mother.

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It is often a last resort that children and adolescents will report and seek help.

A quote by René Morin, spokesperson for the Canadian Center for Child Protection

The federal Department of Public Safety reports that the Canadian clearinghouse for reporting cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse Cyberaide.ca (New window) has processed more than 4.3 million reports of sexual exploitation and abuse of children on the Internet. sexual exploitation of children between 2014 and 2020. Nearly one in four parents reported inappropriate online behavior targeting their child.

From year to year, the number of reports is increasing, confirms Philippe Gravel, corporal in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In an interview with Radio-Canada, this investigator at the National Center against Child Exploitation (CNCEE) specifies that in terms of child pornography, there are more and more reports from electronic service providers: Facebook, Google, Snapchat…

On February 26, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Arif Virani , introduced Bill C-63 on hateful and harmful content online.

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Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, denounces the fact that “not all platforms or social networks provide parents with measures to truly ensure the safety of users.” (Archive photo)

In an interview on the show 24•60on ICI RDI, Minister Pascale St-Onge subsequently underlined the importance of this bill so that the blood-curdling stories of child victims of cyberpredators or sexual harassment stop.

Once the law is in force, explained the Minister of Canadian Heritage, there will be an obligation for platforms to remove, within 24 hours, content that depicts children in sexual situations. explicit and also content that re-victimizes people who have experienced sexual assault. Minister St-Onge also cited cases of non-consensual sharing of intimate images on the Internet.

If they [the platforms] do not comply, they may face significant penalties; it can be from $10 million up to 6% of global annual revenue. And there will be a gradation in the event of a repeat offense.

A quote from Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Thus, Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and other platforms will have the burden of demonstrating that the measures they put in place ensure the safety of children and that of the public, continued Ms. St-Onge.

With information from Jacaudrey Charbonneau and Diana Gonzalez

< em>With information from The Canadian Press

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