Ottawa, ON: Today, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) welcomes international experts on child sexual abuse to Canada for a Summit to help develop global recommendations intended to assist the growing population of victims whose abuse was recorded and disseminated online.
In the last 14 years of operating Cybertip.ca – Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children – the Canadian Centre has witnessed the exponential growth of child sexual abuse material on the Internet. The misuse of technology has accelerated the propagation of child pornography, normalized the sexualization of children, and made it abundantly easier for offenders to actively participate in this illegal behaviour.
In our continued efforts to tackle the growing problem of child sexual abuse imagery, the Canadian Centre has been examining the issues faced by victims of child pornography. In January 2016, the Canadian Centre set out to engage (now adult) victims of child sexual abuse whose abuse was photographed/recorded in completing an online survey in order to learn more about their experiences and ongoing needs.
“Child sexual abuse imagery is a weapon used to silence and shame victims of this horrific crime. This survey provided a much-needed voice to survivors, and the preliminary results profoundly speak to a very serious and little-understood problem in our society,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “The devastating impacts left on the lives of those whose abuse has been recorded and shared online cannot be emphasized enough and requires immediate action by all nations.”
“The abuse is humiliating in itself; the cameras make it worse. The fact that there are people that get a thrill from the hell I went through is very distressing,” said one survivor.
These survivors are the first generation of victims where the recording of the abuse may have been/may be posted or circulated online, and the information they offer provides critical insight into some of the challenges faced. These survivors have a critical voice in helping to identify gaps in the various systems involved in responding to and supporting victims of this crime.
“Doing this survey means giving a voice not only to my own inner child, but all survivors. This is a new form of abuse that only we as survivors truly understand right now. This survey allowed me a safe place to express thoughts and needs so others know how to help. This survey has left me with hope and relief that healing can be a little easier for myself and others,” said one survivor.
The Canadian Centre has engaged this international working group to assist in developing key recommendations tied to supporting this unique population. The group brings a wealth of specialized knowledge to meet the objective.
For the purpose of the Summit (taking place October 5 and 6, 2016), a preliminary analysis has been completed on the information from 115 surveys. Following the Summit, the Canadian Centre will prepare a report (with input from the Summit participants) for stakeholders on best practices and considerations related to addressing the needs of this population. To learn more about the survey, visit protectchildren.ca/survivors_survey. Survivors are encouraged to visit the site to participate in the survey, as well as read updates on the progress.