(OTTAWA) Online child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse increased in Canada from 2014 to 2020, according to a compilation of data released Thursday by Statistics Canada.
For example, in 2020, the overall rate of online child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse incidents was 131 per 100,000 children and youth, compared to 50 per 100,000 six years earlier. .
Statistics Canada, however, indicates that while the number of crimes of this nature may be on the rise, part of the increase may also be attributable to the fact that the police are better trained to detect crimes of this nature and to the fact that the victims are more willing to report them.
From 2014 to 2020, child luring accounted for 77% of online child sex offenses where a victim was identified, followed by non-consensual distribution of intimate images, at 11%, and invitation to sexual touching, 8%. Among child pornography cases, 68% involved the production or distribution of child pornography.
The federal agency observed that in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, police-reported cybercrime increased by 31% compared to 2019. Meanwhile, there was an overall decline in police-reported crime rates, including sexual assault, after several years of increases.
Statistics Canada reports that such phenomena were expected, as the lockdown introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had the effect of reducing the chances of crimes being committed in person. In contrast, the increase in time spent online during the pandemic may have increased the opportunities for committing crimes online.
Furthermore, data indicates that 73% of victims of child sexual exploitation and online sexual violence were girls between the ages of 12 and 17, and 13% were girls under the age of 12. On the other hand, 91% of those accused of online child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse were men and boys: 35% of them were between 25 and 44 years old, 20% were between 18 and 24 years old, and 18% were 45 or older.
Finally, Statistics Canada observed that a small number of child pornography cases were solved by the police.