October is Child Abuse Prevention month. As the internet has continued to grow and exist in so many aspects of society so has the frequency of exploitation.
The Niagara Regional Police E Crime Unit Internet Child Exploitation investigates Child exploitation often of a sexual nature on the internet. In many cases, the crimes go unreported by victims out of fear of losing internet privileges or embarrassment.
Predators exist on the internet. Keeping children safe can be done by following some of the following some safety tips.
Initially, when a child reports online exploitation or cyberbullying:
- Do not delete the content or block the user. The Police will rely on this evidence to investigate the matter further, or to prosecute someone.
- Do not engage the suspect in any conversation. Some parents will continue to converse with the suspect and threaten them, threaten Police involvement, or chat as their child, which puts the child in a compromising positions.
- Do not turn off the computer. Keep the page live and contact Police immediately.
- Capture the username, email address, phone number, and general information of the suspect. If a suspect is alerted to Police involvement, they will often delete their profile, creating more obstacles for the Police to obtain the evidence.
- Be mindful and document how the child met the person if that is provided. Often a teen will meet someone on one social media site, and then move to another to have conversations, so the history of the online exchanges is important so these profiles can be secured.
- Preserve the evidence until Police arrival.
- Expect the Police to seize the phone, tablet or computer briefly for analysis.
- Do not take away internet privileges for victims of online exploitation. They may not have chosen to be exploited, so education, trust, and confidence building is key for victims.
Report to www.cybertip.ca if you want to remain anonymous.
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