Strengthening Measures Against Child Exploitation

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By A Correspondent

Sadly, children continue to be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. In 2011, children accounted for approximately half (44 per cent) of all victims of police-reported sexual assaults in Canada. There are also longstanding concerns about Canadian sex offenders who travel abroad. Internationally, approximately one million children are exploited by sex tourists and traffickers each year.

Canada is committed to helping ensure that communities are protected from sex offenders, particularly those who prey on the young. To this end, on September 16, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Government’s intent to introduce legislation this fall that will better protect children from sexual exploitation in Canada and abroad.

The legislation to be introduced will include proposed amendments that require registered child offenders to provide detailed information to National Sex Offender Registry officials when they are travelling outside of Canada. Having details of travel plans will help prevent and investigate sexual offences by Canadians overseas. Information-sharing between border officials and Registry Officials will ensure that both sides are appropriately alerted regarding the travel of high-risk child sex offenders.

Furthermore, new legislation will also be introduced to authorize the establishment of a national publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders who are already subject to public notification by the provinces and territories. The database will be administered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

These amendments would build on the proposed measures announced by Prime Minister Harper on August 29, 2013, which would provide stricter sentences for sexual predators. Together, these reforms would strengthen penalties for child offenders, improve their accountability and increase information about convicted offenders.

The implementation of these measures would be undertaken in consultation with law enforcement officials and the provinces and territories, given their shared responsibility for the administration of criminal justice matters and policing. They would also be consulted regarding high-risk child sex offenders that would be included in a new national public database.

Since 2006, our Government has taken action to better protect children, including:

  • Putting in place, through the Safe Streets and Communities Act, new mandatory minimum penalties for seven existing Criminal Code sexual offences, including assault, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault (where the child is under 16 years);
  • Making it illegal for anyone to provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence against that child – this process is often referred to as "grooming";
  • Making it illegal to use computers or other means of telecommunications to agree or make arrangements with another person to commit an offence against a child;
  • Strengthening the sex offender registry;
  • Increasing the age of protection – the age at which a young person can legally consent to sexual activity – from 14 to 16 years of age;
  • Putting in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet Service Providers mandatory; and,
  • Strengthening the sentencing and monitoring of dangerous offenders.

Broader measures that our Government has taken to help young victims of crime include:

  • Providing over $10 million for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres (CAC) since 2010. So far, CAC projects have been funded in 20 cities or municipalities across Canada. Teams of professionals at these centres help young victims and witnesses cope with the trauma they've experienced and to navigate the criminal justice system;
  • Launching, the Government of Canada’s public awareness website on online safety. The site contains information for parents on how to protect their children from people who go online with the purpose of exploiting, manipulating or abusing children;
  • Joining the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online in June 2013. The goal of the Global Alliance is to strengthen international efforts to fight Internet predators and child abuse images online. It focuses on identifying and helping victims, prosecuting offenders, increasing public awareness and reducing the availability of child pornography online;
  • Consulting with the public and stakeholders to better understand the various views of what rights should be recognized and protected by a federal Victims Bill of Rights. These consultations are critical in identifying and recognizing how to better entrench the rights of victims into a single law at the federal level, as part of the Government’s commitment to victims of crime; and,

Allocating more than $120 million since 2006 to respond to the needs of victims of crime through programs and initiatives delivered by the Department of Justice Canada.

JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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