Winnipeg, Canada — Today, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s (C3P) Associate Executive Director Signy Arnason met with
federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Justice and Attorney Generals from across Canada to discuss online sexual
violence and table a letter from survivors calling for effective, protective internet regulation.
Arnason’s presentation focused on the need for legislation that protects children online and supportive measures for victims.
Concerns related to the digital environment were also highlighted by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, after
consulting with international stakeholders, experts, and over 700 children worldwide to produce General Comment No. 25 (2021) to the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The digital environment was not originally designed for children, yet it plays a significant role in children’s lives. States parties
should ensure that,
in all actions regarding the provision, regulation, design, management and use of the digital environment,
the best interests of every child is a primary consideration.”
— General Comment No. 25 (2021) — III. B. Best interests of the child
“Canada’s obligations as a State party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child need to be integrated into policy and legislative
initiatives aimed at preventing online sexual violence and enhancing supports for children who have been victimized in the digital
environment,” said Arnason.
This presentation follows
C3P’s roundtable that brought together three federal ministers with Canadian survivors and their
families whose lives have been irreparably changed because of online sexual violence. The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public
Safety of Canada; the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage of Canada; and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of
Justice and Attorney General of Canada spoke with survivors and their families about their calls to regulate the internet to keep
victims safe from online harm.
“As survivors and family members who have experienced the trauma and devastation of online sexual violence, we implore the government to
act now and protect Canada’s children.”
— Survivors and Family members impacted by Online Sexual Violence
Media relations contact:
1 (204) 560-0723
About the Canadian Centre for Child Protection:
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is a national charity dedicated to the
personal safety of all children. The organization’s goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through programs,
services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties.
C3P also operates Cybertip.ca, Canada’s national tipline to report child sexual abuse
and exploitation on the internet, and Project Arachnid, a web platform designed to detect
known images of CSAM on the clear and dark web and issue removal notices to industry.
Letter to the Government of Canada from survivors and their families:
On October 6
th, 2022, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) hosted a roundtable of Canadians who have
experienced online sexual violence against themselves or their child with the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety;
the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Heritage; and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of
Canada is a State Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely adopted treaty in the world. A fundamental
principle of this treaty is that the best interests of the child is to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published General comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital
environment. This General Comment explains how State parties should implement the Convention within the digital environment. This
important document reflects consultations with international stakeholders, experts, and over 700 children around the globe who told the
Committee about their experiences online.
The following excerpts are taken directly from General Comment No. 25 (2021):
The digital environment is becoming increasingly important across most aspects of children’s lives, including during times of crisis,
as societal functions, including education, government services and commerce, progressively come to rely upon digital technologies. It
affords new opportunities for the realization of children’s rights, but also poses the risks of their violation or abuse. ….
[III. B. Best interests of the child]
The best interests of the child is a dynamic concept that requires an assessment appropriate to the specific context. The digital
environment was not originally designed for children, yet it plays a significant role in children’s lives. States parties should
in all actions regarding the provision, regulation, design, management and use of the digital environment, the
best interests of every child is a primary consideration.
[III. C. Right to life, survival and development]
… States parties should take all appropriate measures to protect children from risks to their right to life, survival and development.
Risks relating to content, contact, conduct and contract encompass, among other things, violent and sexual content, cyberaggression
and harassment, gambling, exploitation and abuse, including sexual exploitation and abuse, and the promotion of or incitement to
suicide or life-threatening activities, including by criminals or armed groups designated as terrorist or violent extremist. States
parties should identify and address the emerging risks that children face in diverse contexts, including by listening to their views
on the nature of the particular risks that they face.
The use of digital devices should not be harmful, nor should it be a substitute for in-person interactions among children or between
children and parents or caregivers. States parties should pay specific attention to the effects of technology in the earliest years of
life, when brain plasticity is maximal and the social environment, in particular relationships with parents and caregivers, is crucial
to shaping children’s cognitive, emotional and social development. In the early years, precautions may be required, depending on the
design, purpose and uses of technologies.
Training and advice on the appropriate use of digital devices should be
given to parents, caregivers, educators and other relevant actors, taking into account the research on the effects of
digital technologies on children’s development, especially during the critical neurological growth spurts of early childhood and
[V. B. Comprehensive policy and strategy]
Children’s online protection should be integrated within national child protection policies. States parties should
measures that protect children from risks, including cyberaggression and digital technology-facilitated and online child sexual
exploitation and abuse, ensure the investigation of such crimes and provide remedy and support for children who are victims.
They should also address the needs of children in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations, including by providing child-friendly
information that is, when necessary, translated into relevant minority languages.
[III. E. Right to privacy]
States parties should take legislative, administrative and other measures to
ensure that children’s privacy is respected and
protected by all organizations and in all environments that process their data. Legislation should include strong
safeguards, transparency, independent oversight and access to remedy. … Where encryption is considered an appropriate means, States
parties should consider appropriate measures enabling the detection and reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse or
child sexual abuse material. Such measures must be strictly limited according to the principles of legality, necessity and
[VII. Violence against children]
Sexual offenders may use digital technologies to solicit children for sexual purposes and to participate in online child sexual abuse,
for example, by the live video streaming, production and distribution of child sexual abuse material and through sexual extortion.
Forms of digitally facilitated violence and sexual exploitation and abuse may also be perpetrated within a child’s circle of trust, by
family or friends or, for adolescents, by intimate partners, and may include cyberaggression, including bullying and threats to
reputation, the non-consensual creation or sharing of sexualized text or images, such as self-generated content by solicitation and/or
coercion, and the promotion of self-harming behaviours, such as cutting, suicidal behaviour or eating disorders. Where children have
carried out such actions,
States parties should pursue preventive, safeguarding and restorative justice approaches for the
children involved whenever possible.
States parties should take legislative and administrative measures to protect children from violence in the digital environment,
including the regular review,
updating and enforcement of robust legislative, regulatory and institutional frameworks that
protect children from recognized and emerging risks of all forms of violence in the digital environment. Such risks include
physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or maltreatment, exploitation and abuse, including sexual exploitation and
abuse, child trafficking, gender-based violence, cyberaggression, cyberattacks and information warfare. States parties should
implement safety and protective measures in accordance with children’s evolving capacities.
We call upon the Government of Canada to urgently move forward in its commitment to regulate the internet. Doing so
would not only be consistent with its international obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child, it would also be consistent with its obligations to protect its most vulnerable citizens, children. As survivors and family
members who have experienced the trauma and devastation of online sexual violence, we implore the government to act now and protect
— Survivors and Family members Impacted by Online Sexual Violence