Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP, recently spoke at a conference for victim services personnel that focussed on the online exploitation of child and youth. This is a growing trend and the Surrey RCMP is encouraging parents and child/youth care workers to take an active role in educating children and themselves on how to stay safe in the online world.
The Oct. 24 conference, entitled, “Innocence Gone in Seconds: Responding to Child and Youth Exploitation,” was hosted by the Fraser Regional Training Committee in Surrey and presented information to victim services personnel on online luring and the impacts of victimization.
Fordy spoke to delegates about the challenges police face with respect to the crimes that are committed online and the investigative requirements to bring forward charges against those who victimize some of our most vulnerable citizens.
“The Internet is not a thing, it’s a place. It’s a place full of people doing a lot of great things, but also some extremely bad things,” said Fordy in his opening address. “But policing the Internet, in short, is extremely difficult, as it is a place where anonymity reigns.”
On average, approximately 15 per cent of the files investigated by the Surrey RCMP’s Youth Unit involve some aspect of social media. In addition, almost 10 per cent of cases seen by the Surrey RCMP’s Youth Intervention Program are related to online activity.
“Young people and parents need to be aware of the heightened risks that come with using online technology and to be cognizant of what you share over the internet,” says Sgt. Neil Kennedy with the Youth Unit. “From sending explicit photos to threats and bullying, we have seen the negative impacts that these types of activities can have on both victims and perpetrators. “
The Surrey RCMP continues to highlight the importance of being online savvy through its website, social media, and school talks. There are also a number of resources available that can assist in navigating the evolving online world of smart phones, apps, websites, and photo/video sharing programs.
Tips for Parents and Child/Youth Care Workers:
• Open dialogue – take a proactive approach to internet safety and discuss the benefits and risks of online activity. Cybertip.ca has age-appropriate resources for parents and educators.
• Unplug – encourage time away from computers and smart phones. You set the example.
• Stay informed – sign up for Cybertip.ca Alerts to stay informed on the latest trends.
Tips for Children/Youth:
• Know the risks – Be cautious about the personal details you share online. Information you give online may later be used against you. People are not always who they say they are.
• Think before you share – Once you take and share an explicit photo or video it is out of your control. There is a high chance it will be shared with others or posted online.
• Seek help and report – If you can turn to a parent, guardian or school official, do so. Report Internet-related crimes via the Surrey RCMP non-emergency number 604-599-0502. The website needhelpnow.ca can help navigate what to do if you are impacted by a photo or video that has been shared.
More information is available in the “Protect Yourself” section at www.surrey.rcmp.ca.