Winnipeg, MB: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) is calling attention to the alarming numbers in the Statistics Canada (StatCan) Police Reported Crime Statistics, 2016 released Monday that provide a lens into the scope of the problem of child sexual abuse in Canada. StatCan reported a 30% increase in sexual violations against children from 2015 to 2016 – ranging from hands-on offences to adults agreeing or arranging to commit a sexual offence against a child. The report also cited a 41% increase in child pornography incidents from the previous year, and a 233% increase since 2006.
Both yearly figures are qualified by external factors. For example, the increase in sexual violations against children is cited as being partly attributable to the effects on data classification of the July 2015 implementation of Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act. Even taking that into account, the sobering reality is that the Canadian Centre, through Cybertip.ca, sees more than 4,000 reports each month from Canadians concerning the online sexual exploitation and abuse of children. These reports involve a variety of sexual offences committed online against children.
Over 90% of reports to Cybertip.ca are submitted under the category of “child pornography”.1 Child pornography is not a victimless crime – it is evidence of the most vulnerable of victims being sexually exploited or abused. In 2016, Cybertip.ca released a study that involved an analysis of more than 43,000 unique images and videos classified as child pornography. Nearly 80% of the images assessed depicted very young, pre-pubescent children under 12 years of age – with the majority of those being under the age of eight. Close to 7% involved babies or toddlers. Most concerning was the severe abuse depicted – 50% of all images showed explicit sexual assaults and almost 70% of the images appeared to have been taken within a home setting.
The numbers are ugly and difficult to think about. However, more than ever, this issue requires public recognition that more needs to be done to attack this huge problem. Canadians need to know that these types of horrendous crimes are being committed against children and our country must strengthen its resolve and invest the necessary resources to fight the exploitation and abuse of children.
1. “Child pornography” is the term used in the Criminal Code of Canada. The term “child sexual abuse” more clearly describes the assaults taking place against children and is a more accurate term for images and videos depicting this form of abuse.