Did you know that 99% of young people aged 12 to 17 have used the internet and that 87% do so regularly?

Cyberpredators are well aware of this, and they are always looking for vulnerable people in this massive pool of web surfers. They look for people who need attention. They target chat sessions where they pretend to be teenagers, too. Then they encourage people to take off their clothes in front of their webcams.

Some offer teens a chance to make some quick money, and the next thing they know, they are caught up in prostitution. This type of invitation is most likely to take place on cool-looking websites run by street gangs.

Here are some strategies that cyberpredators like to use:

  • pay lots of attention to their potential victims
  • give affection and be nice
  • try to seduce them by offering presents, money, credit cards...
  • some use enticement and seduction and others are more direct and insistent
  • try to distance the teen from his or her parents by saying things like "I understand...," "It's the same for me - my parents just don't understand me..."
  • bring up conversations of a sexual nature
  • send pornographic photos or videos or encourage the teen to look at adult or child pornography sites in order to trivialize sex and distort reality.

In order to meet teens, cyberpredators use all sorts of techniques to entice them away from their home, school or other safe places. They make all sorts of promises to get teens to meet them or use gifts or money as bait.

To avoid situations you are certain to regret, here are some ideas on how to protect yourself from cyberpredators

  Protect your personal information: name, phone number, address, age, gender, name of your school and password.

 Be careful about the information you reveal in blogs

 Don't post your photo online

Be careful about your virtual friends

 Limit your contact list to friends you know in person

 Be wary in discussions with strangers

 Never accept gifts, money, etc.

 Don't meet with someone in person whom you only know online

If you decide to meet someone in person whom you only know online

 Tell your parents or another adult you trust

 Meet in a public place

 Always go with a friend or parent

Have you witnessed cyberexploitation?

If you come across sites that show the sexual exploitation of minors or recruit teens for juvenile prostitution, you can take action. Here's what to do:

Q. I use peer-to-peer file sharing software, and I recently downloaded a film that included child pornography images. What should I do?

 A. Cases involving peer-to-peer technology are extremely difficult to investigate, but this is the information you need if you decide to alert the police:

  • The name of the downloaded file
  • The user name (it appears in the user column)
  • The person's IP address (if available)

Q. I was surfing the net and I ended up on a child pornography site.

A. Write down the exact address and send it to Cybertip. If you know about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, call 911.

Q. I suspect that some users in a chatroom are involved in juvenile prostitution. How should I report this?

A. Try to get as much information as you can to relay to your local police service:

  • nicknames
  • email addresses
  • comments
  • details about their user profile

With the MIRC client program, for example, the "/whois " command provides complete information about a user.

If your suspicions arise from a conversation you had, try to save the conversation. To save the conversation using MIRC, use the "/log on" command.

All software programs offer identification and save features with different levels of detail. Refer to your chat program documentation.

To find out more

 Cybertip - Click here to report

To see some real cases of cyberexploitation, go to the RCMP's Internet 101 site, which has extensive information on the topic:

 Internet 101

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