It's an understatement to say child protection is important year round. But as a new school year begins and kids reconnect with their friends in person and online, it's a good time to put their safety and well-being on the radar — or perhaps, the smartboard.
For our cover, Travis Poland writes about the disturbing and growing trend of online child exploitation.
In his first story, Poland looks at the RCMP's Integrated Child Exploitation Units, whose members use multiple skills and techniques to uncover the worst offenders and save kids before more harm comes to them.
His second piece explores international efforts to locate victims and support investigations through the work of the Virtual Global Taskforce. Whether in Canada or abroad, collaboration between police agencies is critical to tackling this borderless crime.
Close partnerships also play a key role in identifying and stopping high-risk sex offenders who may be poised to reoffend.
Patricia Vasylchuk writes about the first case in which a Canadian convicted child sex offender was flagged and stopped from entering another country thanks to co-operation between the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and authorities from the Dominican Republic. Sharing pertinent information about high-risk travellers helps prevent child exploitation that might otherwise slip through the cracks.
In Canada, the RCMP's National Human Trafficking Coordination Centre plays a key role in raising awareness and supporting victims of forced exploitation, many of whom are women and girls. And the truth is, no community is immune. Paul Northcott writes about a new national hotline, among other initiatives, recently launched to help trafficking victims across Canada.
We also feature the RCMP's use of the School Action for Emergencies Plan to help responders protect kids during a critical incident, and we speak to an RCMP child forensic interviewer about the skills and challenges of seeking the truth from young victims or witnesses.
In Just the Facts, we share recent statistics about cybercrime in Canada and how it affects young people in particular. We include simple tips for kids and parents to prevent and report cyber-related offences.
Finally, in our panel discussion, we ask two officers and two young people for their views on how police can best connect with kids and teens to help them make sound decisions on their own. Their answers range from playing a simple game of basketball to sharing eye-catching videos on social media.
We hope our stories offer sound reminders of the dangers out there but, more importantly, show the untiring police work being done to keep kids from becoming victims in the first place.