Combating Internet Crimes Against Children In Ontario
The provincial government is taking steps to ensure that Ontario's children are protected against child pornographers and predators on the Internet with a comprehensive strategy:
- Cyber-proofing Ontario's children and introducing Internet safety software in schools
- Strengthening investigations and prosecutions
- Developing a provincewide policing strategy.
Cyber-Proofing Ontario's Children
The province is purchasing a licence to use the CYBERCOPS software developed by LiveWires Designs Ltd., a B.C. company. Officers in the Ontario Provincial Police's Investigation Bureau took an active part in developing the software's content. The Ontario Physical and Health Education Association is creating a teacher resource package and training materials to assist Ontario teachers to integrate this material into the curriculum.
The association is a provincial non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting school communities through advocacy, quality programs and services and partnerships building. It is well respected in the education sector for its high quality work and programming to support the Ontario health and physical education curriculum. Personal safety is a key element of that curriculum.
The interactive software will be used in classrooms for Grade 7 and 8 students and by police services across the province. In schools, students working in groups will play the interactive games included in the software under the supervision of a teacher. Teachers will receive training in how to best use the software to educate children on the lessons of the games and the dangers of the Internet.
The CYBERCOPS software will be available in Ontario classrooms in fall 2005.
Strengthening Investigations and Prosecutions
The Attorney General's Task Force on Internet Crimes Against Kids was formed in June 2004. The task force is made up of Crown prosecutors and police representatives who work on child pornography and Internet luring cases. The task force is also represented at the Ontario Victim Services Secretariat.
The task force is developing policies, tools, training and best practices to improve the way child pornographers and Internet predators are investigated and prosecuted. The task force works in collaboration with Internet service providers, other police agencies and Crown prosecutors.
Developing a Provincewide Policing Strategy
The Ontario government is working closely with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to develop an operational policing strategy to fight Internet crimes against children.
The strategy will be implemented in 2005 with funding of up to $5 million. The goal of this comprehensive strategy will be to ensure that all communities in Ontario have the resources to protect children, no matter where they live in the province.
Adding to the OPP's Capacity to Fight Internet Crimes Against Children
In June 2004, the government announced an extra $1 million in annual funding for the OPP's Project P. The additional funding allows the Child Pornography section to increase its number of detectives and acquire technology and specialized training.
Formed in 1975, Project P was the first unit of its kind in Canada and is considered a leader in the fight against the growing problem of child sexual exploitation. In addition to enforcing anti-child exploitation laws in OPP jurisdictions, the unit also assists other police services that do not have the resources or specialized expertise needed to carry out child exploitation investigations.
Keeping Track of Convicted Sex Offenders
Also in June 2004, the government announced a two-year pilot project with the Toronto Police Service to keep closer tabs on convicted sex offenders. The $700,000 from the Victims' Justice Fund will allow police in Toronto to dedicate more officers to track convicted sex offenders and ensure that addresses supplied by about 1,000 such convicted sex offenders are correct. They will also identify offenders that are not complying with the provisions of the Sex Offender Registry, locate them and monitor them to ensure that they comply in the future.