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Warning: Kids Home Alone with the Internet

A Bill that could help protect our children from Internet luring is delayed in Parliament.

It's summertime, and with children home from school for the holidays, many of them will have unrestricted access to the Internet. Work schedules and increased activities over the summer make it harder to keep an eye on our children's activities, including monitoring their time and where they go on the Internet. Parents need to remain vigilant however, because there are predators trying to enter our homes through the Internet. There is some help coming for parents, in the form of Bill C-22 called the Age of ProtectionAct, but it has been in Parliament for over a year and is still before the Senate.

The best protection for children is parents who monitor Internet access.

With the advent of popular Internet meeting places, such as Facebook and My Space and with online messaging, such as MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, it is becoming increasingly difficult to monitor our children's Internet activities.

Parents want the best for their children and naturally want to see them protected. While we are doing this at home, we expect the government to do its part by passing laws to better protect children and to give law enforcement officials the tools for enforcement.

Bill C-22, called Age of Protection, will be debated in the Senate in the fall. It has already been passed in the House of Commons. This Bill is intended not only to help police officers enforce existing laws regarding Internet luring, but provide greater protection for our youth from sexual exploitation by adults. To many, it might seem obvious that Parliament should pass this Bill, but it has received a lot of debate in Parliament, both for and against.

Children are vulnerable to sexual abuse by adults, child prostitution, and to sexual predators over the Internet. Predators around the world are able to enter into the bedrooms and living rooms of our homes through the Internet to lure and sexually exploit children because of Canada's low age of sexual consent laws. Many young people have unsupervised access to the Internet where adult predators pose as young "friends" to gain the trust of unsuspecting children.

Staff Sergeant Mike Frizzell of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently told a House of Commons Committee that:

During a recent training course we ran on internet luring, which of course is a huge issue, 20 police officers went online in public chat rooms for one hour. Of those officers posing as children, nine received live webcam video images of masturbation, and over a dozen luring attempts were documented. Many of these officers were approached by adults wishing sex within seconds of going online."
Our investigators have been on websites where pedophiles from other countries go goo-goo over Canadian pedophiles who have this law that allows them to have sex with 14- and 15-year-olds. In recent cases in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and right here in Ottawa, Europeans and Americans have come to Canada for the sole purpose of having sex with a child who is 14 or 15 years old because it's illegal in their countries.

Tony Cannavino, President of the Canadian Police Association said, "Unfortunately, under existing Canadian law, Canada is viewed by some foreign sex predators as a child sex tourism destination. Law enforcement authorities report a growth in the number of pedophiles who contact young people in Canada through the Internet because of the low age of consent and who then travel here for sexual purposes."

Raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 will help protect children from adult exploitation and Internet luring. Pedophiles contact Canadian children through the Internet and travel here to have sex with them. This is one reason that it is imperative that Parliament raise the age at which youth can consent to sex with adults, from age 14 to 16.

It used to be that if we locked our windows and doors to our house we afforded general protection for our children. That is no longer the case, because sexual predators can enter our homes through the Internet to gain access to our children.

The best protection for children is parents who monitor Internet access. Computers should not be located in children's bedrooms, but should be placed in an area of the house with high traffic, so that parents can easily and conveniently walk by to see what their children are doing. Restrictions on Internet use when parents are out of the house are also beneficial.

These are some things parents can do to protect their children, but Parliament needs to do its part as well. A year is too long for a Bill that can protect our children to be in Parliament. The Senators who will be examining this Bill in a Senate Committee need to hear from concerned parents that this Bill needs to be passed quickly in the Senate to become law.

Tourists should be coming to Canada to see our beautiful scenery, our mountains and lakes. They should not be coming here to have sex with our children. They only do so because Canada's age of sexual consent is lower than the country they currently live in.

Douglas Cryer is the director of public policy for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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