Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to Target Children in Canada

April 2, 2013 -

An interesting story via the Huffington Post (based on this CBC report) details sexual predators in the United States using online games and consoles to talk to children in Canada. This particular report focuses on Winnipeg, but it's not far-fetched to imagine that if it's happening in one province, it's happening to some degree in other provinces as well.

The story came to light after Winnipeg police investigated seven cases of online predators who attempted lure children through gaming consoles.

Det.-Sgt. Darren Oleksiuk of the Winnipeg Police Service’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit told the CBC police are made aware of new cases of luring through online gaming each month and have investigated seven recently. He claims that all but one of these cases involved a Winnipeg child interacting with a suspected predator in the United States.

Signy Arnason, the director of Cybertip.ca, told the CBC the organization has warned parents about predators using gaming consoles to contact children since 2005.

“It's a hard thing to get a statistic on, because [...] stats, likely, are about people who have been arrested and not those who have attempted to approach kids and lure them online,” said Arnason.

Arnason also said kids are reluctant to tell their parents when such incidents occur because they are worried that their games will be taken away in the name of protecting them.

“[Children] almost feel like they're being penalized for letting their parents know what happened,” said Oleksiuk.

He adds that parents need to prepare their children to deal with such hazards while gaming.

CBC reporter Gosia Sawicka signed up for PlayStation Home, a free game accessible via the PlayStation 3, to see what would happen if she pretended to be a 13-year-old girl.

Sawicka explored the public areas of the game and interacted with other players. Sawicka that "within a matter of minutes" the fake 13-year-old girl was approached by several individuals and asked "sexually explicit questions, even after learning she was just 13."

Sawicka also received requests for photos, private message request and invitations to voice chat.

ESA Canada's director of public relations Julien Lavoie pointed out to CBC that members of his organization "care about the safety of users and gamers," but he stressed "parents and their kids should always use caution and vigilance when engaging with any form of connected media."

Of course, this all leads to potential laws in Canada to deal with this sort of stuff. Unlike the U.S., Canada has no laws that limit access to various online services like some states in the U.S. do. Many states requires sex offenders to register their usernames with a state agency, and in some cases they may be told that they are not allowed to use those services.

New York state is one of the first states to tackle the issue head on. In 2012, the Attorney General’s office asked several online gaming companies to ban accounts associated with registered sex-offenders. He called this Operation Game Over. It began in April 2012, and resulted in more than 5,500 of New York state’s sex offenders being removed from online games.

Source: Huffington Post, CBC

Comments

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to ...

Didn't we just go through a similar panic in the states a several years ago with MySpace and Facebook etc. If I remember right it turned out the media made it seem like much bigger threat than it actually was, and the number of minors targeted by predators online was miniscule. 

 

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to ...

Just what I was thinking. The report seems bogus to me. I mean why would a US-based pedophile look online for victims who could be living on the other side of the world when he could seek them out in his own neighborhood. It just seems kinda incompetent to me.

"it's not far-fetched to imagine that if it's happening in one province, it's happening to some degree in other provinces as well."

Not far-fetched, but neither is it far-fetched to imagine that it's an isolated incident.

"Det.-Sgt. Darren Oleksiuk of the Winnipeg Police Service’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit told the CBC police are made aware of new cases of luring through online gaming each month and have investigated seven recently. He claims that all but one of these cases involved a Winnipeg child interacting with a suspected predator in the United States."

A 'suspected' predator. So he has no idea if this is a predator or a stupid horny teen trying to get women to divulge their sexual habits.

"CBC reporter Gosia Sawicka signed up for PlayStation Home, a free game accessible via the PlayStation 3, to see what would happen if she pretended to be a 13-year-old girl. Sawicka explored the public areas of the game and interacted with other players. Sawicka that "within a matter of minutes" the fake 13-year-old girl was approached by several individuals and asked "sexually explicit questions, even after learning she was just 13."

Yeah, they're probably horny 13 year-old boys.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to ...

Yeah, they're probably horny 13 year-old boys.

Likely exactly this, though keep in mind in the eyes of the law, a 13 year old boy going after a 13 year old girl is still an evil sexual predator.

But yeah, sounds like they discovered the general problem with how women are treated in some (many?) games and twisted it to fit another problem that they felt needed more panic behind it.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to ...

The same with the DS an even shorter time ago.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online Games to ...

What, they can't find any kids to abuse in their own country? Maybe globalisation is to blame.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online games to ...

I don't agree with the idea that people should be banned from online services. It makes no sense. Especially when sex registries are not limited to people whose crimes involved children. Should we ban people who peed in public from online services? What about the 19 year-old who had sex with his 17 year old girlfriend? Or what about the 18 year old church volunteer in Oklahoma who had sex with his 20 year old girlfriend who just so happens to be a member of the congregation? Yes, you read that right. Oklahoma is trying to make that rape.

Even if someone has a more serious "crime", why are we continuing to punish them long after their prison sentence? If we are going to continue to punish them, why not just keep them in prison? Wouldn't it be easier to monitor them and their activities? Not that that would be any better, but it makes more sense than lifelong sex offender registration.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online games to ...

Or even more alarming, teens who sleep with each other.   Over the last few decades there has been a pretty strong mythology around 'innocence' being pushed by people way outside the age bracket, to the point perfectly normal exploration of sexuality within one's peer group is being prosecuted.  Ok, it always has been, but they have really been ramping it up.

Re: Report: US-Based Sex Offenders Use Online games to ...

"Especially when sex registries are not limited to people whose crimes involved children."

 

Also, in some states you can be a convicted sex offender for urinating in public, not something that should be encouraged but hardly on the level of rape.

 
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