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Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and Cybertip Mark Internet Safety Day with a Warning For Parents

OTTAWA (Ontario) February 10, 2009 - The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and Cybertip.ca today came together to remind parents about the important role they play in helping keep their children safe from Internet predators.

"I have heard too many stories about how the Internet has helped abusers find victims, build false trust and in some cases lure them to horrific abuses", says the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Steve Sullivan. "Part of the solution is for parents and children to learn from each other about how the Internet works, what sorts of tools and sites children are visiting and what risks sharing information on those sites might pose. The Internet can be a great resource; it's just a matter of smart sharing. That's where parents come in by helping their kids understand that what they share could be used for other, more malicious purposes."

"The office of the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime plays such a valuable role in assisting victims and their families. We're so pleased to be able to address our mutual concern for the protection of all children by joining with them today to speak out on the importance of safe Internet practices," said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

For parents who are not sure how to begin the conversation with their children, the Ombudsman and Cybertip.ca — the Canadian Centre for Child Protection's national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children — offer the following tips:

  • Take time to learn how your child uses the Internet. Sit down and have them show you the tools they use to talk to friends and the sites they visit most often.
  • Talk to your children about the public nature of the Internet. Emphasize that often people are not who they say they are and make sure they understand that every time they send a photo there is a chance that someone else could intercept and copy it.
  • Make sure your child understands that once a picture or video is sent, they can't get it back. Even if they delete it, they will have lost control of any copies that have been forwarded, downloaded or reposted.
  • Videos and photos tell a story. Before sending a video or photo, teach your child to ask themselves "am I sharing any personal information?" Visual clues like posters, houses, parks and clothing (ex: team jerseys) or even sounds could be used to try to track down and contact your child.
  • Make sure your child is thinking about the future. What they post online today will be available on the Internet years from now — and employers use search engines to find current and past information on a candidate prior to hiring them.
  • Ensure your child respects others. If they are going to share videos or photos of others, they should have permission first.
  • Importantly, teach your child that if they're going to share they should choose a site that offers a password or other security features.

To mark this year's Safer Internet Day, Cybertip.ca also launched its Respect Yourself campaign to teach teens about the risks they face when sending pictures or videos of themselves by email or instant messaging, or by posting them online. The Respect Yourself campaign includes a comprehensive website for teens, posters and an activity booklet that will be distributed to grade 7 classes across Canada. The website is found at www.cybertip.ca. In addition, parents or guardians of children 8-15 years of age can also download age-appropriate Safety and the Internet brochures at: https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/internet_safety-for_youth.

The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime helps victims to address their needs, promotes their interests and makes recommendations to the federal government on issues that negatively impact victims. For more information, visit their website at: www.victimsfirst.gc.ca

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of all children. Its goal is to reduce child victimization by providing programs and services to the Canadian public — including Cybertip.ca, Canada's national tipline for the reporting the online sexual exploitation of children.

For more information please contact:

Office of the Federal Ombudsman
for Victims of Crime
Christina McDonald
Telephone: 613-941-3428
Email: Christina.mcdonald@ombudsman.gc.ca

Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Tish Best, Communications Director
Telephone: 204-945-6020
Email: tish@protectchildren.ca