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“It is up to us to stop seeing [technological] progress… as a stream of unlimited blessings, and rather view it as a gift from on high, sent down for an extremely intricate trial of free will,” Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said. 

In Canada, where online child sexual exploitation has risen significantly over the past decade, and where children can easily access explicit material, we are failing that trial.

According to Statistics Canada, from 2014 to 2020, police reported more than 40,000 incidents of online child sexploitation and incidents increased during the pandemic. Police-reported incidents of making or distributing child pornography rose to 7,400 in 2022. Cybertip.ca, a national tip line, says that online sexual luring is up by more than 800 per cent in five years.

Beyond the issue of direct exploitation, there is another serious challenge of children accessing explicit and violent material online. 

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Daniel Dorman is the communications manager at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a nationally-focused think tank in Ottawa. He writes independently on political and cultural issues.