Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Advocate for child victims says Internet use may need to be licensed

  • Print

An internationally known advocate for child victims of online luring says licensing Internet users is an effective way to protect children from pedophiles and child sex abusers who prowl the net for victims like Amanda Todd.

Roz Prober from Beyond Borders was responding to findings that cyber stalkers, like the kind who hounded a 15-year-old B.C. girl to suicide, use flattery and strong-arm tactics to exploit kids for sex.

Prober spoke after a press conference in Winnipeg on the topic.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife Laureen Harper attended the event Friday, where the Canadian Centre for Child Protection released preliminary findings about online luring. The full study is to be completed and released before Christmas. Harper did not offer any statements on the issue.

In an interview after the event, Prober said she values the work of the Canadian Centre and Cybertip.ca, a tip line for reports of cyber sex abuse of kids which supplied raw data for the findings based on hundreds of report from 2007 to 2011.

The focus of the centre is to arthe im parents with information to protect their children online and work like this does that, Prober said.

But she said it’s not fair to expect parents and children to fend off sex predators on their own.

Besides , law enforcement faces challenges with Internet crime that don’t exist with street crime and as long as predators hide behind their anonymity, it’s hard for police to track them down and stop them.

At the same time, such predators are insatiable, driven to use their laptops again and again to track down kids for sex on the net.

"The Internet is the wild wild west and we know that we are seeing more and more children who are victims of sex predators and they’re anonymous. They’ve found they have access to all this technology and they can do whatever they want... So what’s the remedy?" Prober said in a phone interview.

Maybe it’s time to look at a Canadian regulatory system for the Internet, that would require every computer owner to hold a licence, she said.

"Beyond Borders is saying enough is enough. What’s an innovative way to take away this anonymity? One way is to say you’re not going on the Internet unless we know who you are."

She described a system that would be national in scope and open to law enforcement, much like the way drivers licences are regulated by provinces.

She also suggested that Canada open up its sex offender registry to the public. Right now, it’s only open to justice and law enforcement officials.

Cyber stalkers like the kind who harassed 15-year-old Amanda Todd of B.C., who later committed suicide, flatter and use strong-arm tactics to exploit minors for sex. But once they exploit their victims and distribute their images across the net, their victims find themselves at the mercy of cyber-bullies who are often kids their own age, according to the findings released Friday.

The findings mirror the reality that Amanda Todd described in a haunting YouTube video that went viral last week.

The Port Coquitlam, B.C. teen used simple handwritten flash cards that related how she was told she was beautiful and then talked into baring her breasts online. Then she was bullied online with threats to expose the photos. After the photos went viral, she was hounded relentlessly by cyber-bullies, until, unable to find support or anyone to protect her, she hanged herself.

Her nine-minute black-and-white video sparked a public backlash against cyber porn and cyber-bully tactics.

At the press conference in Winnipeg, Winnipeg South Centre Conservative MP Joyce Bateman made it clear what happened to Todd is all too common.

"I’m so proud of the work you do," Bateman said after the centre’s executive director released the preliminary findings of their work to describe cyber-bullying and online child sex exploitation. She said prime minister’s wife was in Winnipeg for a tour of the centre Friday and Batemen said they both wanted to express their condolences to the Todd family.

"We care about this for the same reason. We are both mothers," Bateman said.

The Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection examined 264 online luring reports made to Cybertip.ca between 2007-2011 that discovered the same pattern of behaviour online is used to lure in victims, Todd’s age and younger, all the time.

The focus of the study stressed that parents must take a stronger role to protect their children from online predators.

The centre offers various programs and is working on a classroom lesson that will eventually roll out in grade schools across Canada, to instruct Grade 7 students on warning signs that an online chat pal could be sexual predator.

"To Amanda Todd’s family, I’d like to express on behalf of our agency, our deepest sympathies. We are so sorry you lost your daughter," Centre executive director Lianna McDonald said.

McDonald said there’s a simple reason for the intense backlash against online predators that has rolled over the country since Todd’s tragic suicide.

"Each and every one of us recognized someone we know in her story and we can’t bear it."

 

 

 

 

The findings were released as preliminary conclusions a week after a YouTube video by Port Coquitlam 15-year old Amanda Todd went viral, come to the same conclusions the pubescent victim did.

Todd used simple handwritten flash cards that described how she was told she was beautiful and then talked into baring her breasts online. Then she was bullied online with threats to expose the photos. After the photos went viral, she was hounded relentlessly by cyber-bullies, until, unable to find support or anyone to protect her, she hanged herself.

Her nine-minute black-and-white video sparked a public backlash against cyber porn and cyber-bully tactics.

The press conference in Winnipeg attended by the Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Winnipeg South Centre Conservative MP Joyce Bateman made it clear what happened to Todd is all too common. Harper was present for the press conference but did not make any statements.

The Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection examined 264 online luring reports made to Cybertip.ca between 2007-2011 that discovered the same pattern of behaviour online is used to lure in victims, Todd’s age, all the time.

"I’m so proud of the work you do," Bateman said after the centre’s executive director released the preliminary findings of their work to describe cyber-bullying and online child sex exploitation. She said prime minister’s wife was in Winnipeg for a tour of the centre Friday and Batemen said they both wanted to express their condolences to the Todd family.

"We care about this for the same reason. We are both mothers," Bateman said.

The focus of the study was to stress that parents must take a stronger role to protect their children from online predators.

The centre offers various programs and is working on a classroom lesson that will eventually roll out in grade schools across Canada, to instruct Grade 7 students on warning signs that an online chat pal could be sexual predator.

"To Amanda Todd’s family, I’d like to express on behalf of our agency, our deepest sympathies. We are so sorry you lost your daughter," Centre executive director Lianna McDonald said.

McDonald said there’s a simple reason for the intense backlash against online predators that has rolled over the country since Todd’s tragic suicide.

"Each and every one of us recognized someone we know in her story and we can’t bear it."

Beyond Borders online child advocate Roz Prober said at the centre after the official press conference that it’s not fair to expect children and their parents to fend off sexual predators online.

"Why are we putting up with this? What we saw with Amanda Todd is happening to other 12-year-olds, so why don’t we look at the Internet as the wild wild west and -- you know, you can’t drive a car without a licence -- there’s got to be a constructive way to regulate the Internet and protect children."

Prober said a first step in regulating the net would be to require convicted sex offenders to be licensed if they own a computer and then make the sex offender registry of convicted offenders open to the public. That way parents could track offenders in their neighbourhoods.

"We can start with Canada," she said.

History

Updated on Friday, October 19, 2012 at 1:56 PM CDT: Corrects typo.

3:23 PM: adds new photo

3:51 PM: updates with full writethru

October 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM: corrects typo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google