Teach your kids how to dial 9-1-1 and how important it is to only use it for emergencies. Let them know what to expect when they call:
- Tell the person who answers what and where the emergency is
- Give their full address, phone number, and name
- Stay on the line with the 9-1-1 operator until they tell them to hang up
- Help is on its way, even though they are still talking to the operator
We don’t ever want to discourage kids from calling 9-1-1, but it’s important they understand when to use it.
Reports of online child luring are increasing. It’s happening in social media apps, games, streaming sites, and in online messaging. Cybertip.ca reported an 81% increase in reports in the spring of 2020. As a parent, this can be one of your greatest worries, but there are simple steps you can take to help protect your child.
There may be clues and behavioural changes in your children that could indicate they are being targeted or “sextorted.”
Things to watch out for:
- sudden and unexplainable shifts in mood
- advanced knowledge of sexual topics
- finding pornographic or sexual photos on the child’s device
- messages from unknown people
- sudden appearance of new, expensive items that may have been gifted to the child
- withdrawal from families
- secretive about online activity
Tips for helping your child stay safe online:
- talk casually to your children about their online activity, so the topic becomes a regular part of your conversations and your children are comfortable asking for help
- watch out for warning signs that a child may be in trouble online, such as sudden changes in behaviour, closed doors, social withdrawal, sexual content on their devices, and late night or secretive online activity
- remind them to get your permission before sharing pictures or video chatting with people online
- explain that adults should not try to become friends with or give sexual attention to children
- reinforce that they should immediately tell you or another trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe on social media, video games, or on a streaming website
Online grooming techniques:
- getting to know the child, what they like, their routine and daily habits
- searching out their vulnerabilities (not getting along with parents, not doing well at school)
- introducing sexual themes in the conversation gradually and assessing the child’s reaction
- asking for photos of nudes or partial nudes and/or sexual conversations via video
- may ask to meet up for sex, or extort the child for money with threats of sharing the images or video with family and friends
Groomers are very good at what they do. Simple questions like asking a child if they have a rule about how long they play a game for, or asking if they have their own computer in their room, can assess how much parental oversight the child has.
Where is this happening?
Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are the three most common platforms in child luring incidents in Vancouver Police investigations. Omegle, Discord, Roblox and other gaming platforms are also popular with online predators.
For more advice and information, please visit:
VPD: Operation Creep Out
When it comes to luring children, the creeps have new tricks up their sleeves.
Keeping your kids safe isn’t just about watching for strangers in dark alleys anymore. With an 88% rise in reports of online child exploitation, predators have taken to the internet and social media to lure victims. Despite the risks, less than half of Canadian parents are actively safeguarding their children from online exploitation.
Take a look at the following text exchange. Learn to spot their tactics.
Know where the creeps might be hiding. Talk openly with your child about this.
To learn more and to find out if you can spot the creeps, visit VPD: Operation Creep Out
Strangers and safety
It’s very important to talk to your children about personal safety with age-appropriate information. You will find personal safety tips for children of all ages here:
Effective parental influence is a key to gang prevention. It is important for parents to trust their own instincts. If you feel something is wrong with your child, it probably is. This instinct can be an early warning signal to work on prevention.
Parents not only influence their own child’s choice to join a gang, but they can successfully change attitudes in the community by working together with other parents. Most important, they can create a community-wide attitude that rejects gang-related behaviour.
Many parents have developed effective ways to keep their family unit strong and help their children resist the allure of gang membership. The following steps can help prevent gang involvement:
- talk with your children about alcohol, drugs and gangs – they need accurate, factual information
- be involved with your children in healthy, creative activities, such as hobbies, sports, school and community events
- arrange for activities for after school hours; children regularly left alone are often bored and with a lack of supervision have a greater tendency to become involved in gangs, or other negative activities
- have a tolerance for mistakes or failure, and be supportive; use positive re-enforcement, rather than punishment when possible
- know where your children are, what they are doing, and who their friends are; consider setting and enforcing a reasonable curfew
- communicate regularly with parents of your children’s friends
- listen to what your children say and what their concerns are; good communication will give them the confidence to talk to you about anything
- encourage your children to get involved in community building projects; when they help build up a community, they are less likely to damage or deface it
- set clear limits that define what is safe and acceptable and what is not; discipline should always be consistent and fair, and it is important to set a good example
- learn about gang and drug activity in your community, including finding out how gang members dress and speak, their behaviour and activities
For more information about the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit’s (CFSEU) call to action to end gang life, please visit CFSEU.