Advocates stress app awareness after 13-year-old Edmonton found alive in US – Edmonton |

Child protection advocates once again call for parents, guardians and children to educate themselves on social media and raise awareness about apps after a 13-year-old girl was missing for more than a week and was found alive in Oregon this weekend.

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41-year-old man in custody after missing Edmonton teen found in Oregon

The Edmonton teen was last seen on Friday, June 24 around 8:30 a.m. in the area of ​​131 Avenue and 91 Street, which is next to Killarney Junior High School. Edmonton police said they found her in Oregon on the morning of July 2.

A 41-year-old man is in custody and will face child enticement charges. Edmonton police said additional charges may be filed as the investigation progresses.

In an FBI statement on Saturday, the Portland field office said it assisted in the arrest of Noah Madrano, 41, for allegedly luring a 13-year-old girl from Canada to the US.

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The Oregon City Police Department later confirmed that Madrano was arrested on July 2 at the request of the FBI and will appear in court Tuesday afternoon on the Oregon State charges for which he is being held: Kidnapping II , sexual abuse I and rape II.

Several organizations were part of the investigation, including ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams), the Northern Alberta Child Internet Exploitation Unit, Oregon City Police and the FBI.

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Cybertip’s Stephen Sauer says that, in general, it’s more common for sexual exploitation and attraction to take place entirely online. Cybertip is receiving many reports of incidents related to pressure to exchange sexually explicit photos or for young people to participate in live broadcasts.

“Attracting children online is almost a sense of urgency for us. We are seeing an unprecedented number of children being lured or manipulated.
Someone is communicating with them for the purpose of committing a sexual offense against them,” says Sauer.

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“That increase is about 120 percent over the last six months, in terms of the numbers that we see.

“We have an average of 155 reports per month right now… of youth being involved in a conversation with someone who has sexually exploited them online.”

It’s less common for things to turn into an in-person meeting, he says.

Sauer says that children are participating more than ever on online platforms and that criminals see it as an opportunity.

“Snapchat and Instagram are being used quite a bit for this type of activity right now. About 77 percent of the reports we’ve received through the online attraction-related tip line are from Snapchat or Instagram.”

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Little Warriors is seeing similar spikes in online kid attraction.

Dr. Wanda Polzin Holman, the organization’s clinical director, says the criminals seem to be targeting different demographics. Recently, there have been issues with alerts in Alberta about child exploitation targeting children ages nine to 13, she says.

“This is a really big issue and I think in the last couple of years, through COVID and through kids and teens having more access to computers and using online and that parents aren’t necessarily aware of this all the time, this has opened a gateway for child predators in a way that we have never seen before.”

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“For girls, it happens a little bit slower,” adds Sauer. “What we are seeing is that they believe that they are in a relationship with a partner of a similar age and that what is happening to them is part of a normal relationship with that person. Often there is a lot of persistence on the part of the person who engages with them.”

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Alberta police are concerned about the rise in child luring cases

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Tips for parents and guardians

“They should have regular, ongoing conversations with their kids about technology, understand a little bit more about that technology, and give them the tools to understand where there is red flag behavior,” says Sauer.

“Where there is persistence, where someone asks for something that makes you uncomfortable, you go to a parent or safe adult in your life to let them know about that situation.”

He says, at that point, the child should stop all communication with that individual, the adults can keep some records of the interaction, and then contact Cybertip or their local police.

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Polzin Holman says that Little Warriors is trying to educate youth and caregivers about the risks and warning signs.

“We are also seeing a lot of incidents of what would be called sextortion.

“We are aware of children who send images to each other, but they do not recognize them or realize that those images then become a potential part of the web and that those images can be transmitted and that can be really traumatic for them”, she says.

According to Polzin Holman, criminal behavior can take place even in the most innocent-looking apps.

“Be aware that many interactions are happening in ways that parents and guardians may not be aware of across different platforms like games… like Road Blocks or Minecraft.

“They think they are talking to another child online, but this is a place where there are child predators.

“Parents and guardians need to keep the conversation going, talk to their kids about this, set limits, make sure there are ways to set parental controls on their devices, check in and keep the lines of communication open.”

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Edmonton Police Service Insp. Brent Dahlseide also highlights the importance of open communication.

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“As a parent, if I’m in communication with my kids, about what they’re doing on social media or other media platforms, and I know who they’re with, who they’re communicating with, what information they have. are actually posting personal or other information; I think that helps to potentially eliminate the lure opportunity that people may try to take advantage of.

“Don’t be afraid to have that communication between parents and youth,” says Dahlseide.

Increase in child exploitation online

Between March 2020 and March 2021, the Canadian Center for Child Protection, or C3P, which runs the national tip line, saw an 88 percent increase in reports, many of which involved predators connecting with youth through social media and live streaming platforms like Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Omegle.

Sergeant Kerry Shima of the Northern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit recommends that parents download the apps their children use and try the video games themselves.

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Cases of child attraction and sextortion rise online since the start of the pandemic

Shima said there are certainly many cases that have gone unreported, with the victim and parents trying to handle the situation on their own. He stressed that it was important to report to the police.

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“It can help not only your family, but it can also help other investigations.”

Social media companies “have a huge responsibility”

“I think we’ve unfairly put the burden on parents to figure this out,” said Signy Arnason, associate executive director of the Canadian Center for Child Protection“and frankly, it’s a little ridiculous.

“You can’t keep track of everything your child is doing online.

“Businesses have a huge responsibility for what needs to change here, as do governments. So we have to demand more.”

There is also a reporting tool on and the steps to follow if a youth is being sextorized.

— Archived by Demi Knight, Global News

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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