The number of online child sex crimes jumped in the first year of the pandemic in 2020, according to Statistics Canada.
The rate of child pornography incidents, for example, is up 35% from rates seen in 2019, a study by the federal agency found.
By comparison, the number of child sexual assaults has declined as Canadians are confined to their homes for extended periods of time. The possibility of sex crimes being committed in person was therefore rarer.
On the other hand, time spent online during the pandemic may have contributed to the increase in online sex crimes. This increase in cybercrimes against children is explained, among other things, by the increase in the rate of possession and distribution of child pornography.
Moreover, cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse appear to be crimes where “gender inequality is particularly evident, and which disproportionately targets girls”. Overall, three out of four victims are girls between the ages of 12 and 17, and the majority of the accused are men. Among children and young people, 73% of the victims are girls between the ages of 12 and 17, and 13% are girls under the age of 12.
As for men and boys, they represent 91% of perpetrators of sexual violence against children online.
While the scourge of child pornography continues and grows, few of these cases are solved.
The study also revealed that 56% of online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases were not cleared. More than eight out of ten child pornography cases go unsolved.