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New Stats Can report showing staggering increase in online child sexual exploitation/abuse reinforces urgent need for robust online safety laws in Canada

Online luring of children the lion’s share of safety risks directed at children, Stats Can

For Immediate Release

Winnipeg, Canada — A nearly three‑fold increase in online child sexual exploitation and abuse reported today by Statistics Canada reinforces the urgent need for regulation of digital platforms and electronic service providers in Canada, says the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P).

The report titled, Online child sexual exploitation and abuse in Canada found that the number of incidents involving children harmed in digital spaces reported to Canadian police from 50 incidents per 100,000 population in 2014, when cybercrime data were first collected nationally, to 131 per 100,000 in 2020. Alarmingly, when online child sexual abuse material incidents are removed from the data, the online luring of children and adolescents accounted for more than three quarters (77%) of all other police-reported incidents.

The study also notes the victims of these crimes also tend to be among the most under‑reported to law enforcement.

“Canadian children and adolescents are being targeted and victimized through their daily use of technology and social media platforms. There is an urgent need for all level of government to ensure they regulate and protect minors in digital spaces with the same level of care as they do in the offline world,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director for C3P.

McDonald notes that other jurisdictions such as Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have already proposed or enacted legislation designed to impose duties of care and stiff financial penalties for digital services. The Government of Canada and the Québec provincial government are in the early stages of considering ways to ensure technology companies are accountable to Canadians through harm prevention and responsiveness to platform user concerns.

“There is much work to be done to not only ensure safe online environments for children now, but also to repair the past damages of online harm—such as the distribution of child sexual abuse imagery and the non‑consensual distribution of intimate images—that have been allowed to occur without consequences or action,” says McDonald.

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About the Canadian Centre for Child Protection: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. The organization’s goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through programs, services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child‑serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties. C3P also operates, Canada’s national tipline to report child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet, and Project Arachnid, a web platform designed to detect known images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the clear and dark web and issue removal notices to industry.

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