RCMP warns parents of online predators targeting kids during COVID-19 crisis

RCMP

With schools closed and options for outdoor play limited, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are warning parents to keep an eye on what their kids are doing as their online activity increases.

“What we're seeing is online offenders, particularly in the area of child sexual exploitation, is they're changing their own behaviours and patterns because they know the kids are going to be home with increased screen time,” said Sgt. Arnold Guerin of the RCMP's Child Exploitation Crime Centre.

Guerin said while parents shouldn't necessarily be alarmed, they should be vigilant.

“You need to be involved in their digital life and you need to have good, solid, mature conversations with them about the potential risks that could happen,” he said.

 

Psychologist Perry Adler advised parents to establish a trusting relationship with their kids.

“You, as a parent, should be used as a resource to help them make good decisions,” he said. “Your primary goal in talking and monitoring or helping them manage their Internet use is to help protect them from bad agents in society and have them understand that if things go wrong, you're not there to punish them, you're there to protect them.”

Guerin said parents can take advantage of technological safeguards like parental controls or consult cybertip.ca and protectkidsonline.ca for strategies on online safety.

“You definitely want to be involved in reviewing the privacy settings on the apps so you know what's being shared out,” he said. “You have some comfort that you're doing the best you can to restrict private information.”

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