Lockdowns cited in rise of online luring

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FOR the first time in five years, Canadian crime rates are down, but an increase in child pornography and online offences has advocates on edge.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/07/2021 (490 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FOR the first time in five years, Canadian crime rates are down, but an increase in child pornography and online offences has advocates on edge.

Statistics Canada data released Tuesday shows police-reported crime, including violent crime, decreased in 2020 in most provinces and territories, including Manitoba.

Police-reported crime fell by eight per cent during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, as justice system officials tried to keep unnecessary cases out of criminal courts, Statistics Canada reported, but reports of online harassment and hate crimes increased.

Child pornography charges, cases of online luring and non-consensual sharing of explicit images all increased over 2019. There was a 27 per cent increase in charges of making or distributing child pornography; a 19 per cent increase in accessing or possessing child pornography; a 15 per cent increase in luring a child using a computer; and an 11 per cent increase in the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, according to the data.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection called attention to the increases, saying its CyberTip.ca child sexual abuse reporting hotline had a 40 per cent increase in calls in the first two weeks of the pandemic and a 106 per cent increase by the end of the 2020 fiscal year.

Signy Arnason, the centre’s associate executive director, said children and teens generally had more time to spend online at the beginning of the pandemic, and lockdown restrictions meant abusive adults had more time at home.

“It all adds up to some really serious concerns for kids to be victimized,” Arnason said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s common for the centre to get reports of kids being coerced into sending or livestreaming sexual images which are screen-captured, saved and shared by predators.

The centre is calling for the government to start regulating internet applications with clear standards for what companies must do to protect children.

“You would never find an offline environment where we would allow adults and children to coexist and mix in the same way that exists online,” she said. “We put all sorts of protections in place for children offline, understanding they’re more vulnerable, and the online world has completely avoided that.”

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca

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