October 23rd, 2020

Local groups working to make internet a safer experience


By Bobinec, Greg on February 12, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

February 11 marks the worldwide Safer Internet Day initiative, and Lethbridge Police Service and the Lethbridge Sexual Violence Action Committee are working together for a better and safer internet experience.

Safer Internet Day calls upon young people, parents, caregivers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, businesses and policy makers to join together in helping create a better internet. From online gaming, shopping and watching videos to reading news and socializing, the internet is full of fun and information. However, the internet also creates a haven for criminals where they can hide anonymously in an effort to lure and sexually exploit those who are vulnerable, especially children.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection defines online luring in circumstances where one person (typically an adult but not always) communicates with a young person through technology such as texting, instant messaging, to make it easier to commit a specific sexual offence against the young person.

During 2018-19, ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Units were able to conduct 24 child interventions, identify 380,351 child exploitation photos and videos, 1,601 exhibits ad devices seized, and 212 terabytes of data analyzed.

The public is able to assist in preventing child luring by recognizing the vulnerability of children and youth and know the tactics used by online predators. Most predators can be described as charming, flirtatious, complimentary and engaging personalities that can lead to being sexual or coercive in nature. They know how to groom and exploit people by holding private conversations, offering gifts, asking youth to isolate from friends and family, request photos and videos, profess their love, and even pressure and threaten the child or youth.

Lethbridge Police Service says it is critical for parents, caregivers and teachers to keep communication open and have discussions with real-life examples. Teach young people to not respond to messages that make them feel uncomfortable and show them how to delete messages, block messages and encouraging them to tell a safe adult. Explain the role of adults as they should never give sexual attention or become their friends as it is across a boundary that is unsafe, unethical and, if sexual, illegal.

As part of Safer Internet Day, police services around the world are encouraging the community to have these discussions with their children about online exploitation. To report online child luring or exploitation, call Lethbridge Police at 403-328-4444, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or online at cybertip.ca.

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