On Aug 9th, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, announced the coming into force of the protecting children from sexual predators component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10).

“The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous crime that causes irreparable harm to the youngest and the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Minister Nicholson. “Our Government is sending a clear message to dangerous pedophiles who prey on our children: from now on, you will serve jail time.”

The component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act coming into force today will:

  1. Establish mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code offences such as luring a child, sexual assault, and aggravated assault. As a result, conditional sentences (i.e. house arrest) will no longer be available for any of these offences.
  2. Increase mandatory prison sentences for nine sexual offences involving child victims, such as possessing, making, accessing or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation.
  3. Increase maximum penalties for four child sexual offences, including increasing the maximum penalty from five to 10 years for the indictable offence of a parent or guardian procuring their child for illegal sexual activity where the child is less than 16 years of age.
  4. Create two new offences with mandatory prison sentences that seek to prevent the sexual exploitation of children by making it illegal for anyone to:
    • provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against a child (this process is often referred to as “grooming”); or
    • use telecommunications, including the Internet, to communicate with another person to agree or make arrangements to commit a sexual offence against a child.
  5. Require judges to consider prohibiting suspected or convicted sexual predators from having any unsupervised contact with a child under the age of 16 or any unsupervised use of the Internet or other digital network.

Statistics Canada recently announced that the rate of police-reported sexual offences against children rose by 3 percent between 2010 and 2011.  In addition, there was a 40-percent increase in the rate of police-reported child pornography incidents, the largest increase of any Criminal Code offence in 2011.

The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime offers support, research and education to survivors and stakeholders.

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