About 80 % of parents believe that the Internet can be a source of danger when it comes to the sexual exploitation of children. Yet, less than 50 % are addressing the issue with their children, according to a survey released yesterday by the Marie-Vincent Foundation and Cybertip.ca.
“Parents don't have the tools to talk about it with their child, they don't know what to say,” says Mélanie Gagnon, of the Marie-Vincent Foundation. Yet all children should be sensitized, regardless of their age, with appropriate language, she said. Because three in four children aged 3 to 12 use the Internet and one in two interacts with other people, whether through social networks, chat sessions or online games. Not to mention that there are now a multitude of devices whose use increases with age. Other risks, such as identity theft and cyberbullying, for example, were not addressed in the survey.
"We often have the impression that our young people are safe because they are in the living room, which is not necessarily the case," said Ms. Gagnon. Three quarters of respondents do not use any parental control software, a tool that is useful even if it has limits, especially with older children. “Some will check the browsing history, email or become their kid's Facebook friend,” she says. We have to support young people in this and take an interest in what they are doing. "
In the same way that a parent will give safety instructions to his child before sending him alone to the park, it is necessary to supervise the browsing of young people on the Web. "It is important that parents regularly discuss Internet safety with their children," said Signy Arnason, director of Cybertip.ca in a press release. Nowadays, children are accessible at all times on the Internet, and it is all the more important to give them safety instructions to reduce the risks to which they are exposed. Ms. Gagnon mentions for her part that it is the responsibility of all those working with children to make them aware.
On its site, Cyberaide.ca offers under the tab sensitization several sites intended for parents and teachers in order to do prevention with young people. The site is also a clearinghouse for reporting cases of child sexual exploitation on the Internet. Since 2002, it has received more than 53,000 reports from Canada.
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