For Carol Todd, the news that another child lost her life after a sexual blackmail incident is a reminder of her own suffering.
RCMP said Monday that a 12-year-old boy in Prince George, British Columbia, committed suicide last month after being sexually extorted, and urged parents to talk to their children about the potential risks of online activity.
The news broke on what would have been Carol Todd’s daughter Amanda’s 27th birthday, but her story spread around the world after she died by suicide in 2012. Last year, a Dutch man was found guilty of sexually extorting a British Columbia teenage girl.
Todd advocates for stronger communication between children and caregivers, and stronger laws and enforcement targeting those who seek to exploit children.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that another family is going through the grieving process over a situation that could have been prevented,” she said in an interview with CBC News on Monday.
But she also said families and law enforcement are confronting complex forces lurking behind anonymous internet addresses and national borders.
“These predators… even when this was happening to Amanda, they’re becoming more evolved,” she said.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Tuesday that the Canadian government is still working on new legislation targeting online harm. This was first promised in 2019, but has yet to be brought to the table.
LeBlanc said it’s difficult to create Canadian laws that deal with businesses and individuals located outside the country’s borders.
“Legislation is a complex area, but I think the urgency of the transition is real,” LeBlanc said.
“The fact that a 12-year-old boy from British Columbia took his own life in such a horrific way shows that the online world is extremely dangerous and vulnerable people can be preyed upon. It should remind us all.”
In an interview at her office in Prince George, RCMP Corporal said: Jennifer Cooper told CBC News that police are investigating the cause of the 12-year-old boy’s death, but due to the nature of the case, other jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies may investigate. He said it was unlikely that any further information would be released in the near future. Involved.
“These investigations aren’t going to end anytime soon,” Cooper said. “We are still working to identify the suspect in this matter… and [going] By identifying where in the world this suspect is located. ”
Police are calling on parents to talk to their children about the dangers of the internet and are hosting a family forum in Prince George to educate caregivers on the topic.
Signy Arnason of the Canadian Center for Child Protection said the responsibility needs to lie with governments and technology companies, not individuals.
“Parents are really engaged. They understand the risks their children face online, and they’re afraid,” Arnason said.
“We need these companies to take responsibility for keeping their platforms safe, knowing that children are their primary users. We have to start demanding that it’s safer for our children.”
Her organization recorded a 150 percent increase in sexual extortion complaints to its tip line last year, and without concrete action by companies to make platforms safer, parents will continue to keep their children in the dark. She said it was unfair to expect them to be completely protected from the world. Internet side.
In the meantime, authorities are calling on children and families to better understand the risks of internet sextortion and to talk to each other about what they see online.
It’s a message Todd stands by, and one he wishes he had heard more than a decade before he lost his own daughter.
“Knowing what I know now, I would have talked more deeply about telling my kids that they could come to mom and dad whenever they wanted.”
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