Attempts to lure children online for sex are at never-before-seen levels in Canada, and a human trafficking educator, speaker, and advocate warns that its crucial for parents to get to know what’s going on with the devices their children use.
Cybertip.ca, a tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, says there’s been an 815 per cent in reports during the past five years – rising from 220 in 2018 to 2,013 in 2022.
Cathy Peters says parents need to educate themselves about online sexual exploitation, and then talk to their children about the dangers.
She adds that parents should also be aware of when and where children are going online and make sure there is no computer use in bathrooms or bedrooms late at night.
“Parents have no clue,” warns Peters,” so sex buyers, I’m not just going to say sex traffickers, because it’s the buyers that are causing the harm, they are acting with impunity in this country, and in this province.”
She says BC is a magnet for organized crime, “we’ve really been soft on crime out here, and human trafficking is a big fund raiser,” and encourages parents to speak out and raise it with school boards, politicians and law enforcement.
According to Peters, “sex traffickers are very organized, very sophisticated, they know what they’re doing, and they put out a very large net to try to lure people in.”
She warns the problem is growing everywhere and Vancouver Island “is really vulnerable to this crime,” adding that organized crime very entrenched on the Island.
Peters points to Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver, port cities and global tourism destinations, warning that “along with this goes the criminal element, all of our communities now have a very nasty criminal underbelly.”
She says parents need to educate themselves, talk to their children about it, and follow with actions to make sure their children cannot being targeted when they are online.
Peters says parents can listen to the top global experts on sexual exploitation during a conference in early May.
She says the Canadian Exploitation Summit is free and is being held online.
Listen to the full interview.