Child protection law needs good enforcement
Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 10:05 am |
Tough new federal legislation coming into force this month to protect Canada young people from sex crimes marks a important step forward for communities everywhere, including right here in West Central Alberta.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act, which received Royal Assent in March, is aimed specifically at sexual predators who target children.
“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 federal Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Rob Nicholson.
As some of the toughest child protection legislation ever seen in Canada, this new law is welcome news for parents, grandparents and others who have the health and well-being children at heart.
The new law has several components, including the following:
• It increases 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.
• It establishes 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.
• It increases mandatory prison sentences for nine sexual offences involving child victims, such as possessing, making, accessing or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation.
• It creates 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 children, or using telecommunications, including the Internet, to communicate with another person to agree or make arrangements to commit a sexual offence against a child.
• And it requires 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.
All these measures are great additions to existing Canadian law, coming at a time when Canadians everywhere want to see more done to protect children.
While the Harper government should be applauded for this new legislation, Canadians will also be counting on the government to ensure that the police officers and Crown prosecutors responsible for enforcing these new measures are given the additional resources they need to make them effective.
In the end, putting this great new law on the books will mean little if it doesn’t come with an equally strong enforcement component.