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Keep Kids Safe Online

While the sexual exploitation of children and youth has increased over the years, since the pandemic, with kids spending more time online than ever, this crime has exploded.  Cybertip has seen an 88% increase in reports of online sexual exploitation during the pandemic, and a 57% increase of adults contacting children as young as 8 to engage in sexual activities

While most parents believe this crime could never affect their kids, BC children are being affected. With March 8th marking the start of BC’s 23rd Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week, the Vancouver Community Action Team (VCAT) wanted to bring further awareness to this issue.

To do so, on March 8th, Camila Jimenez, Chair of VCAT, took part in a one-hour conversation on Malcolm McMillan’s podcast This Amazing Story.  Camila has worked with children and youth who have been sexually exploited for more than 16 years.  During this episode, she discussed the surge in cases of young people being exploited online, why this is happening and what we can do to prevent it.  You can access the podcast here.  For those of who who would prefer to read rather than listen, we’ve also transcribed the podcast.

Need more help?

Remember, it’s never too soon to talk to children and youth about how to stay safe online. When you do:

  • Be curious and non-judgmental about how they are spending their time online and who they are connecting with when they do so.

  • Encourage them to talk to you about their life online as you would about their life outside of your home. Ask them to tell you about their online friends, what they did while they were online, and anything that happened that stood out for them (for good or bad reasons).  

  • Remind them not to share personal information with anyone they meet online, such as their age, location and photos or videos.

  • Create a safety plan with them as to steps they will take to take care of themselves online.

More resources

If you need further help, check out the resources below:

To report images that shouldn’t be online (nude images or sextortion).  Cybertip also has resources for parents on how to have conversations with your child about online safety.
 To remove non-consensual image sharing.
What to do if a child or youth is being sextorted.
Helps parents/guardians stay on top of the digital world their children are engaging in.
 Support for youth experiencing or witnessing violence.
Counselling, information and referrals to youth.
Crisis support for Indigenous youth.
Provides free educational workshops to children, youth and adults on the issue of child and youth sexual exploitation.  Children of the Street also has a toolkit designed to educate parents on the issue of sexual exploitation.
Offers a variety of youth friendly supports in Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Ridge Meadows.

About VCAT

This webpage is brought to you by the Vancouver Community Action Team.  VCAT, is a group of local service providers who have joined forces to increase awareness and education on the issue of sexual exploitation of children and youth.  Representatives include PLEA Community Services, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC, The Salvation Army, Urban Native Youth Association, Qmunity, and Covenant House Vancouver and others.