‘Dig a little deeper’: Edmonton case sparks online safety discussion

Content of the article

The case of an Edmonton teenager who disappeared to show up in Oregon with a man who now faces kidnapping charges has renewed the discussion about how to protect children from online threats.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

The 13-year-old from Edmonton was found in Oregon on July 2 after she went missing on June 24. State law enforcement has since filed kidnapping, rape and sexual abuse charges against a 40-year-old Oregon man accused of luring the teenager.

Back in Edmonton, police prepare to lay charges of luring.

The case of the Edmonton teenager has renewed discussion about how children and parents should navigate social media safely. The director of Canada’s tipline for reporting online child sexual abuse and exploitation says there has been a 120% increase in luring reports in the past six months.

Just this week, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP issued a social media extortion warning after receiving six reports of online extortion since May. In this case, the RCMP said the suspects targeted men between the ages of 17 and 25 by forming false relationships online, convincing the young men to send intimate images, then threatening to distribute the images unless they don’t spit money.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

Stephen Sauer, director of Cybertip.ca, said the organization used to receive between 60 and 70 luring reports from the public, and now receives an average of 155 reports per month.

« What we’re kind of seeing is a subset of luring that would be extortion or ‘sextortion’. We’ve had a 150% increase in these types of reports in the last six months” , he said, « In the month of June alone, we had 100 reports solely related to extortion. »

Typically, cases involve someone contacting a person, tricking them into engaging in sexual activity through a live stream or coercing them into sending photos or videos of a sexual nature. As soon as the aggressors have the intimate content, the victim is threatened for money.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Seventy-seven percent of those cases over the past few months have happened on Instagram and Snapchat.

About 60% of reports of extortion involve young people between the ages of 15 and 17 and about 75% of the victims are men.

Attackers can create multiple accounts using a photo of a young woman of similar age to the targeted people.

« We seem to have normalized the sharing of sexual images online in society and that message has also been normalized for young men, » Sauer said. « They’re pretty quick to engage in that, not that we’re blaming the victim, because those people who do that to them are also very aggressive and persistent. »

He said that even if an intimate photo is not shared, sometimes the abuser takes a photo from a victim’s profile and alters it to create a sexual image of the young person. This is then used to try to force them to comply.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

« You can imagine how quick kids are to conform when they’re in this crisis situation, » Sauer said.

One of the things parents can do early on is talk with their kids about technology, ask about the apps they use or how a game works, and make it a habit. , like asking about their day at school or about their friends.

« Learning a bit as a parent about this technology is a very important part, » Sauer said. « It also helps in terms of your ability to help a child set up their profile and configure the privacy settings on that particular app and understand exactly how that works. »

Parents can also talk to their children about online sexual abuse, making sure children know if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable, or if there are offers of money or gifts in exchange for something they don’t have to incur.

Advertising 6

Content of the article

« You’re there to help them if someone connects with them and they don’t need to comply with those kinds of unwanted sexual requests or attentions, » Sauer said.

If children are becoming more withdrawn, angry or secretive about what they are doing online, or if there is a significant increase in online activity, it may be a sign for parents that something is wrong. pass.

« The parent needs to trust their instincts and if they feel like something is wrong they need to get more involved and connect with the youngster to try and dig a little deeper into what’s going on, » Sauer said.

But Sauer added that tech companies must step up their efforts to ensure that children are not exploited on their platforms.

« From our agency’s perspective, we believe there is a greater responsibility here for companies in this space to detect when child sexual exploitation is occurring on their platform and to ensure that they are able to prevent this from happening in the future,” he said. .


Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Back to top button