Research: Leading the Way

A key function of relates to the collection, compilation, and analysis of statistics for research, education and policy development purposes. As Canada's national tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, has a unique lens into the issue of child sexual exploitation, its victims and their vulnerabilities, and its perpetrators and their techniques.

The reporting process and related educational material is constantly updated and refined to remain current with the ever-changing world of technology. Statistics from the tipline provide an unbiased view on child sexual exploitation, as well as metrics for comparison with other countries/hotlines around the world.

  • In 2016, released the study Child Sexual Abuse Images on the Internet: A Analysis. The study provides an overview of the information received through reports to the tipline from 2008 to 2015, with a particular focus on child sexual abuse images. It highlights the seriousness of online child sexual abuse imagery and the need for more to be done to identify these victims, stop offenders and reduce the availability of content.

    The report was based on a review of close to 152,000 reports and examined 43,762 unique images. Some key findings include:

    • 78.3% of children in the images and videos were estimated to be younger than 12 years old
    • 63.4% of those younger than 12 were estimated to be under 8 years of age
    • 80.4% children appeared to be girls
    • 50.0% of images and videos depicted sexual assaults against children and the younger the children, the more intrusive the abuse
    • 68.7% of the images and videos appeared to be taken in a home setting

    The information presented in this study raises significant concerns surrounding offenders’ sexual interest in very young children and the imperative role child protection agencies have in understanding the function of child sexual abuse images in offending behaviour, and the risks posed to children by those who access, possess, share or create such images.

  • In partnership with Bell, released its first research report entitled Child Sexual Abuse Images: An Analysis of Websites by in November 2009. The report provided an overview of the information received through reports to the tipline, with a particular focus on websites that host child sexual abuse images. Nearly 16,000 websites hosted child pornography and close to 5,000 unique images were examined within this report.

    Some of the key findings include:

    • 82.1% of the images analyzed by depict very young, pre-pubescent children under 12 years old
    • Of the nearly 5,000 unique images assessed by analysts, over 35% show sexual assaults against children
    • 77.6% of webpages had at least one child abuse image of a child less than 8 years of age, with many showing infants and toddlers being assaulted
    • Images of children less than 8 years old most often depicted them being abused through sexual assaults (37.2%)
    • 83% of the images were of girl children

    A series of recommendations for educators, policy makers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders working to reduce the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children were put forward. This resulted in a series of changes to tipline’s operations, technical and policy development, as well as education and public awareness activities.

  • Online luring refers to a process through which someone with a sexual interest in a child prepares them for future sexual contact. The Criminal Code (Canada) defines a luring offence as someone using telecommunications to communicate with someone they believe to be under the age of 18 years in order to facilitate committing an offence against that child.

    In August 2007, released its first luring report detailing the scope of the problem; including child victim, suspect, and reporting person profiles; as well as the techniques utilized by offenders to manipulate a child into compliance (grooming process). A second report was recently completed in September 2012. The study examined 264 reports made by the public to, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, about online luring between September 2007 and June 2011. Some reports about online luring came from family members of the young person being victimized as well as the victims themselves. A percentage of these reports also included text and chat logs, which aided researchers in further examining the interactions and techniques offenders used in luring children online. Preliminary results reveal:

    • 85.9% of identified victims were girls
    • The mean age of the victims was 13 years
    • The mean age of the suspects was 25
    • In 50% of the cases, reports were listed as being made by a family member, with almost 31% being made by the victim
    • In 24% of the cases, the young person was threatened by the suspect, with the largest number of threats involving the distribution of existing images of the victim
    • In 93.4% of the cases, suspects made specific requests for images or there was a discussion of previously uploaded images. In 30% of these particular cases, it was indicated that the young person had sent images to the suspect
    • In 38.6% of the cases, instant messaging was indicated as the technology used by suspects to lure victims
    • In 35.5% of the cases, suspects either sent victims sexual images of themselves, or requested the young person to go on webcam whereupon the young person would see a sexualized image of the suspect

    This research has enabled the exploration of the behaviour of both the child and the suspect and their interaction with each other. This important data has substantially aided our understandings of the vulnerability, resilience, and risks to youth, as well as in the behaviour in those offenders who seek to sexually exploit them. This knowledge has assisted in the further development and adaptation of prevention and educational materials.