Charlene Doak-Gebauer knows first-hand how quickly the Internet can change a person’s life.
“We have a family member who at the age of four was a victim of child pornography and it was by neighbours. She tried to live her life to the fullest but it always caused problems for her, the whole trauma.”
It was that incident as well as finding child pornography on a computer she was repairing that led Doak-Gebauer to want to make a change. “You don’t know that garbage until you see it and when it’s with children the same age as my niece it’s not something you get over.”
Doak-Gebauer started up an organization called Internet Sense First to educate families and help victims of child exploitation.
“We provide therapy for victims. People like to call them survivors. We also provide educational sessions for parents, youth and children.”
Det. JP Loberto from the London Police Services Internet Child Exploitation Unit says last year 39 arrests were made with 121 criminal charges, but that’s just the cases they know about.
“It’s difficult to know how prevalent this is because many online interactions go unreported but estimates indicate approximately one in five children have been approached online by a predator.”
Loberto adds the RCMP received approximately 55,000 reports of online child exploitation in 2018 alone.
Doak-Gebauer says children are being exposed to more pornography, violence, cyber bullying, suicide than any generation in history. “Our parents need to start supervising their children digitally,” she says.
Internet Sense First is holding an international summit in London this coming November with a list of experts hoping to shed light on this growing problem.