While the internet provides many exciting learning opportunities for young people, it can also open the door for predators to exploit and abuse them.
Detective Constable Michele Bond of the Service’s Sex Crimes Child Exploitation Section issued the reminder at a press conference on Safer Internet Day at police headquarters on February 10. An online conversation is going on through Twitter via #SID2015.
She said that devices and most sites and applications have safety settings that can easily be turned on or off.
“We are asking parents to take a minute to review the setting options and determine if they are age-appropriate,” said Bond. “A geo-location setting can be useful and actually required for some applications to work. However, it can also lead a predator right to your door.”
She said the Service has been diligently working with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to distribute educational material on the issue of self-peer exploitation, also known as sexting, which is a growing concern for parents, school personnel and law enforcement in Canada.
“The impact that sexting has on our youth is evident,” added Bond. “They are affected emotionally, socially and sometimes face criminal consequences. Parents and guardians need to talk to their children about healthy and unhealthy relationships, their personal boundaries, their on-line activity and the risk of taking sexualized images.
Parents and guardians need to talk to their children about healthy and unhealthy relationships, their personal boundaries, their on-line activity and the risk of taking sexualized images
“On this day where the emphasis is on internet safety, we need to take an interest in our kids’ online world. It’s a world that’s not native to some of us, but our kids were born into it, so we must catch up. What devices are they using, what sites and apps are they going to, what type of settings can be activated and/or disabled to make their online world safer? Are they aware of password securities, who are they talking to online, do they have some strategies to get out if an uncomfortable situation occurs? Our most fundamental responsibility is to protect our children from those who would do them harm and that includes the people that are close to them.”
Bond said the number of young people that are victimized yearly is escalating.
“What’s more disturbing is the fact that the victims of sexting and self-peer exploitation are getting younger and younger and that is because, we find, younger children are now using electronic devices,” she said. “We are not saying that it’s wrong to give your children electronic devices, but what we are asking parents to do is to keep an eye on what their children are doing.”
For more information on how to protect your children online, visit the Canadian Centre For Child Protection website