RCMP: Online child sexual abuse and exploitation not slowing down

THE BC RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation (BC ICE) Unit said on Tuesday that while reports of online child exploitation rose dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many to stay in their homes, police have since seen that upward trend continue.

It pointed out: “The sad truth is, there are people that use the Internet to victimize and exploit youth. Our children are continually being targeted online, and it is important for youth, and their guardians to stay alert.

“Predators can find ways to have direct contact with youth on various social media platforms, even in the false safety of our physical homes with locked doors. Kids of all ages are increasingly vulnerable in our always-online world.”

The number of reported online child exploitation reports has continued to steadily increase over the past few years. The BC ICE Unit receives referrals from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, cybertip.ca, Crimestoppers, Interpol and many other international policing partners.

* 2021 – Over 4,600 total reports received
* 2022 – Over 9,600 total reports received
* 2023 [January 1 to March 31] – Over 5,790 total reports received to date
If that rate holds, reports could more than double again for 2023 over last year.

“We encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children about online safety and to be vigilant of unsolicited friend requests,” said Cpl. Sharen Leung of BC ICE. “Safe online habits can go a long way to protecting kids from exploitation, but parent awareness is also key.”

There are several age-appropriate online resources available, including cybertip.ca, and protectchildren.ca.


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