News and Media

NEW ACTIVITY BOOKLET EDUCATES CHILDREN ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE

For Immediate Release
December 2, 2009

Ottawa, ON: In response to Cybertip.ca's recent research findings on child sexual abuse images on the Internet, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection is launching a new activity booklet to educate children about child sexual abuse. With support from Bell, the Be Smart, Strong and Safe booklet will be distributed free, to approximately 300,000 Grade 6 students across Canada.

"Children require a higher level of protection and that is why this government supports educational initiatives such as the Smart, Strong and Safe pamphlet. Preventing child victimization includes developing materials that educate children about how to protect themselves from those who seek to harm them," said Hon. Peter Van Loan, Canada's Minister of Public Safety.

The creation of the educational booklet addresses some of the recommendations released in the study entitled Child Sexual Abuse Images: An analysis of websites by Cybertip.ca. The report found that 82% of child sexual abuse images assessed by Cybertip.ca were of children 12 years of age and under. Such results reinforce the immediate need for child sexual abuse prevention and education in this country.

"There needs to be a shift in the way we view the problem and solutions of child abuse images on the Internet," said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "The truth is that sexual abuse begins in the offline world. Efforts should be focused on preventing child sexual abuse from occurring in homes and communities."

Recognizing the challenges in discussing the issue of child sexual abuse, the Be Smart, Strong and Safe activity booklet helps teachers educate children about this subject in an empowering way. Through a myriad of fun activities, children learn how to identify inappropriate behaviour, and how to talk to a trusted adult when something makes them feel uncomfortable. Lessons have been developed to accompany the activity booklet so teachers can incorporate this important bilingual program into daily teaching activities.

"Bell is committed to keeping children safe online by investing in educational programs that focus on issues impacting children today," said Mirko Bibic, Bell's Senior Vice President Regulatory and Government Affairs. "We are pleased to partner with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in educating kids to be smarter, stronger and safer in both the online and offline worlds."

The Be Smart, Strong, and Safe booklet is the first of several education properties that will be unveiled by the Canadian Centre to address recommendations from their recent research report.

"Education on this subject is critical in assisting young children in recognizing signs of abuse and disclosing to a trusted adult if they are being abused or photographed inappropriately," said McDonald.

Be Smart, Strong, and Safe is part of the Canadian Centre's national program called Kids in the Know (KIK). KIK is an interactive safety education program for children from Kindergarten to High School (www.kidsintheknow.ca).

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If you are a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with one of our spokespeople please contact our communications team:

Communications, Canadian Centre for Child Protection

Phone:
204-945-8074
204-801-2979 (Cell)

Email:
communications@protectchildren.ca


Media Backgrounder:
Be Smart, Strong and Safe


What is the Canadian Centre for Child Protection? The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a national non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of all children. The Centre's goal is to reduce child victimization by providing programs and services to the Canadian public.

What is Cybertip.ca? Owned and operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Cybertip.ca is Canada's national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. Cybertip.ca accepts and addresses online and telephone reports from the public regarding child pornography (child abuse images and material), online luring, child exploitation through prostitution, travelling to sexually exploit children, and child trafficking. Cybertip.ca was launched as a provincial pilot program (Manitoba) in September 2002, and in May 2004, along with the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, became part of the Government of Canada's National Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet.

On average, Cybertip.ca receives more than 700 reports and 100,000 page views to its website per month. Cybertip.ca analysts review all reports and forward those with potentially illegal content to police. Reports have resulted in a number of arrests, as well as numerous children being removed from abusive environments. (Analysts hold Special Constable Status in order to review and create these reports.)

Why Smart, Strong and Safe? Exclusive, extensive data is collected through Cybertip.ca. The Centre analyzes this information and uses it to develop educational programs, such as Be Smart, Strong and Safe in order to keep children safe by giving them safety strategies they can use in their daily lives.

According to Statistics Canada, 61% of all victims of sexual abuse reported to police are children under the age of 18 years. In 2007, the sexual assault rate for children and youth was over 5 times higher than it was for adults. Recently, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection published a report entitled, Child Sexual Abuse Images: An Analysis of Websites by Cybertip.ca. This study examines reports made by the public to Cybertip.ca between September 26, 2002 and March 31, 2009. It focuses on child sexual abuse images on websites and provides an overview of the problem of child pornography. Of the 35,111 website incidents (one public report may contain information about an email and a website- this would be considered two separate incidents, as they would have to be analyzed independently) processed by Cybertip.ca during this time, 15,662 involved sites hosting child pornography, thus the number of incidents analyzed in this report.

The results of this analysis provide some disturbing data on the issue of child pornography. Most concerning is the severity of abuse depicted, with 35% of all images that were analyzed depicting serious sexual assaults against a child. Also troubling are the ages of the children depicted in the images with 82.1% of the images analyzed by Cybertip.ca depicting very young, pre-pubescent children under 12 years old. Even more alarming is the extreme sexual assaults (bondage, torture and bestiality) which occur against young children. These statistics challenge the misconception that child pornography consists largely of innocent or harmless nude photographs of children. Gender also played a role in the research with 83 per cent of the images depicting girls.

Be Smart, Strong and Safe One of the key recommendations of the Child Sexual Abuse Images: An Analysis of Websites by Cybertip.ca report is the creation of educational materials for children 12 years and under in order to help young children recognize signs of the abuse process and disclose to a trusted adult if they are being abused or photographed inappropriately. The Be Smart, Strong and Safe activity booklet is designed for children ages 11 and 12 and teaches children about sexual abuse in an empowering way. Through a number of interesting and fun activities children learn how to identify strange behaviour and situations, and how to talk to a trusted adult when something makes them feel uncomfortable. The activity booklet will be distributed across Canada to more than 10,500 schools and over 260,000 Grade 6 students.