Child Sexual Exploitation on the Internet
Canada’s Criminal Code provides comprehensive protections against all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Child-specific offences include prohibitions against:
- all forms of child pornography including possessing, accessing, making and distributing child pornography;
- the use of the Internet to communicate with a child for the purpose of luring or facilitating the commission of a sexual or abduction offence against that child;
- all forms of sexual contact/touching as well as any invitation to engage in sexual touching whether committed in Canada or committed by Canadians or Canadian residents abroad; and
- the offering up or procurement of a child for illicit sexual activity, including prostitution.
The Government’s Action to Combat Child Sexual Exploitation on the Internet
Public Safety Canada leads the Government of Canada’s National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, which was launched in 2004. The Strategy’s goals are to: increase the capacity to investigate and track down predators; to enhance public education and awareness on the issue; and to support further research on child sexual exploitation.
In February 2009, the Government announced the renewal and expansion of the National Strategy on an ongoing basis, committing $41 million over five years (2009 – 2014). With an additional $6 million per year provided through Budget 2007, the total allocation of $71 million over five years will:
- reinforce law enforcement’s capacity to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse on the Internet through the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, including a focus on the identification and rescue of child victims;
- continue to support the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, who operate the national reporting tipline, Cybertip.ca, including public awareness and education programming;
- support research on child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, including child trafficking; and
- reinforce the overall coordination, oversight, evaluation and training associated with the Strategy.
Through Cybertip.ca, the public can report suspected cases of online sexual exploitation of children. This may include reports of child pornography (child sexual abuse material), online luring, children exploited through prostitution, travelling sex offenders, and child trafficking. Cybertip.ca analysts examine and triage the reports received from the public and forward them, as necessary, to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. From September 2002 to March 2010, Cybertip.ca processed over 38,000 tips from the public.
Cybertip.ca also provides a range of public awareness and age-appropriate educational resources, as well as support and referral services, to help Canadians and their families to stay safe while using the Internet.
Implemented in 2007, Project CleanFeed represents a partnership between Cybertip.ca and Canada’s major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), aimed at reducing accidental access to child sexual abuse images and discouraging those trying to access or distribute them. Through this project, Cybertip.ca maintains a regularly updated list of specific foreign-hosted Internet addresses (URLs) associated with images of child sexual abuse, which is provided in a secure manner to participating ISPs whose filters then automatically deny access to the listed sites.
This type of collaboration continues through the Canadian Coalition Against Internet Child Exploitation (CCAICE), a voluntary, multi-sector forum comprised of industry, law enforcement, governmental and non-governmental stakeholders from across the country who meet regularly to discuss emerging issues in the area of online child exploitation and to develop collaborative solutions.
On March 26, 2009, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC) coordinated Canada’s largest investigation into child sexual victimization on the Internet, known as Project Salvo. With the assistance of 35 police departments and Cybertip.ca, this operation resulted in over 50 arrests on charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and possessing, making and distributing child pornography. The success of this investigation is another example of the Government’s commitment to working with partners to combat the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet.
Canada works closely with international partners in combating online child exploitation. This includes not only the exchange of intelligence in the tracking of online predators, but also sharing of best practices and lessons learned in combating child exploitation on the ever-changing terrain of the Internet.
In April 2010, the RCMP's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children launched Project Sentry, a one-month deployment of three of its members to Haiti in support of Haitian National Police efforts to protect children from sexual exploitation in the wake of the earthquake, which left many children vulnerable. This support will enhance the capacity to prevent and/or identify potential child victims from Haiti.
The Government of Canada endorses a number of international efforts to protect children from sexual exploitation, including:
- the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography that requires countries to undertake measures to prevent all forms of sexual exploitation of children;
- the G-8 Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet;
- the International Labour Organization’s Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour; and
- the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.
Other Related Sources
RCMP National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre:
Virtual Global Taskforce:
Contribution Program to Combat Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking (CPCCSEHT)