Data from Statistics Canada suggests arrests for certain sex-related cybercrimes have more than doubled since 2015.
As the digital world is accessible to almost everyone, it’s no shock that cybercrime numbers are on the rise. The crimes with the most shocking increases are the making or distribution of child pornography and luring a child via a computer.
According to Canada’s Criminal Code child pornography is comprised of any audio, visual or written content involving a person under the age of 18 years-old showing their genitals or engaged in sexual activity.
The definition for luring a child via a computer is contacting or attempting to contact someone under 18 through the internet with the intent to commit sexual exploitation, incest, child pornography, or sexual assault.
As you can see in this infographic, the number of arrests for luring a child via a computer have doubled since 2015. Meanwhile, arrests for the making or distribution of child pornography are eight times higher in 2022 than what they were in 2015.
With arrests for these cybercrimes on the rise, calls for child safety are growing louder. Many parents and caregivers are struggling to find ways to protect their children from online predators. The struggle has increased as more and more children and youth live their lives online.
Bev Moore-Davis is an award-winning author, survivor of childhood sexual abuse and founder of the Miles for Smiles Foundation. Based out of Newfoundland and Labrador, her foundation is dedicated to the awareness and prevention of child abuse.
“[Cell phones] are becoming addictive. We wouldn’t give children alcohol or cigarettes at such a young age and yet we give them cell phones. Technology is moving so quickly that even parents who are trying to stay informed can’t keep up with the dangers of the internet,” says Moore-Davis
In Moore-Davis’s eyes, not enough is being done to protect children from online abuse.
“The government needs to take a more proactive role. I look at the time that government action takes and it’s unfortunate. People are falling through the cracks, it’s not good,” says Moore-Davis.
Currently, there are a few online resources for Canadian parents and caregivers concerned about their child’s internet safety. The Miles for Smiles Foundation, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and Canada’s Safety Council all outline different ways to keep children safe when they are accessing the internet.
At this stage, open communication between well-informed children and parents seems like the key to online safety for children and youth.
“I would tell parents to get in the habit of talking to their children everyday. Ask them questions about what’s going on. That way kids get in the habit of talking to mum or dad. There may be nothing going on right now but if something happens five years down the line the child is already in the habit of sharing,” says Moore-Davis.
If you believe someone you know is a victim of online child sexual abuse or exploitation, there are resources. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection runs Cypertip.ca where you can report online abuse and find help.