Helping kids stay safe while online is something many parents are concerned about. Yet, as a parent, it can be difficult to stay up to date with new technology and how to best protect your kids.
Cyberbullying is an extreme form of bullying among youth through technology. It is abusive, targeted, deliberate and repeated behaviour intended to harm another person. Sometimes sexual images and videos are created and distributed as a form of bullying.
Online luring commonly refers to the process through which someone with a sexual interest in children prepares a child for future sexual contact. The Criminal Code (Canada) defines a luring offence as someone using telecommunications (e.g., chat, messaging, and texting) to communicate with someone they believe to be under the age of 18 years in order to commit a offence against that child.
Self/peer exploitation (also known more generally as “sexting”) refers to youth creating, sending or sharing sexual images and/or videos with peers online or through electronic devices. You cannot share an “intimate” image or video of another person online without their consent. If the image or video involves someone under 18, it may be illegal to distribute regardless of whether consent was provided.
Sextortion involves individuals coercing youth into sending sexual images or engaging in sexual acts via a camera-enabled device. These individuals then blackmail the youth by threatening to distribute the sexual images or videos if the youth does not provide more or pay them. The use of live-streaming services has increased the vulnerability of youth to this type of exploitation because youth can be recorded without their knowledge and then blackmailed.
Youth are exposed to sexually explicit material on the Internet. Some youth intentionally seek it out as they are sexually curious. In seeking out information on the Internet, they can be exposed to graphic and potentially harmful material that can influence their development of attitudes and beliefs about sexual relationships.
- Stay informed. It can be difficult to stay on top of what is trending online amongst youth but the more informed you are the better able you are to protect your child.
- Talk openly with your child about their online activity. This should include discussions about privacy controls, information they should or should reveal online, not engaging with people they don’t know, blocking unwanted contacts.
- Encourage your child to come to you if there is any unwanted, worrisome or suspicious activity happening online. Your child needs to know that they will not be in trouble if they come to you with these concerns.
- Have limits about your child’s online activity that focus on their safety.
- Depending on the age of your child, or past safety issues, it may be necessary to have their passwords and access codes so you can check for safety issues.
- Be a positive role model demonstrating healthy online boundaries and activities.
If you child is in immediate danger or an adult is engaging online with your child in a sexual nature, contact your local police.
To report online luring or non-consensual distribution of an intimate image, visit cybertip.ca/report or call 1 866-658-9022
If your child wants to speak to someone for support consider the Kids Help Phone at 1 800-668-6868