Northwest Territories RCMP Internet Child Exploitation Unit urges parents, caregivers and guardians to watch out for online sexual exploitation.
In a statement sent April 2nd, RCMP defines Online sexual Exploitation with the following;
It comes in many forms, some of which include: Predators coercing children (of all ages) into producing sexually explicit images or videos through manipulation, deception, attention, gifts or threats. Often pretending to be close in age to the child. In some cases, predators come across as a trusted adult forging a relationship with a young person online. Then later arrange to meet and abuse the young person. Often in cases involving adults and youth, they are manipulated into believing the person is their boyfriend/girlfriend.
Following the cancellation of Schools for the rest of the school year in NWT about a week ago, RCMP is warning that with children staying at home longer due school cancellations, they may be exposed to a higher risk of possible online sexual exploitation.
NT RCMP ICE unit released a list of tips for how to help educate and prevent children/youth from becoming victims of child predators and sexual exploitation:
- Teach your child about personal safety and online safety visit kidsintheknow.ca for age appropriate resources;
- Review games and apps prior to allowing them being downloaded.
- Privacy settings should be set to the highest level for online gaming systems, electronic devices and apps;
- Monitor your child’s use – electronic devices should be kept/used in a common room, not behind closed doors;
- Speak to your children and explain that anyone who asks for nude pictures or asks them to engage in sexually explicit activity needs to be reported to a parent, guardian or other trusted adult and law enforcement;
- Learn about behaviours and situations that present risks to children;
- Make it a rule with your children, that they can’t arrange to meet with someone they met online without your knowledge and supervision;
- Be involved and pay attention to interactions between adults and children.
- Supervise your child, know his/her whereabouts and with whom she is building relationships with offline and online;
- Model appropriate boundaries between adults and children;
- Pay attention to changes in your child’s behaviour patterns – it can be a sign that your child may be in distress, often children will communicate more through behaviour than words when distressed;
- Empowering children with knowledge about personal safety and boundaries (age appropriate) can help reduce their risk of victimization.
Research shows that offenders are less likely to target children who present a risk of telling. Predators rely on secrecy to groom and offend which is why it’s important to report suspicious activity. Sexual attention in any form towards a child is never okay.