Amend Sexual Offences Act to expand child protection - OCA
THE OFFICE of the Children's Advocate (OCA) wants a new section to be included in the Sexual Offences Act to expand the level of protection to children from those who use digital technology and other means to facilitate inappropriate contact with a child.
Gordon-Harrison told members of a joint select committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act on Wednesday that her office is aware of many situations in which adults send electronic pictures, videos or sexually explicit text messages to children.
While acknowledging Section nine of the Sexual Offences Act which covers sexual grooming, the OCA is pressing for alleged perpetrators who send sexually explicit material to children to be prosecuted.
"We have heard frustrations, for example, from school administrations and from (school) boards who have very hard evidence when they look at the text messages that a child would receive overtime, but their hands are tied because there is no legislative option under the law, in terms of a corresponding offence," she divulged.
"The typical scenario occurs when the adult sends electronic pictures or videos of themselves to children; so the Child Pornography Act would not cover that because it is not an image of a child," she explained.
The OCA is suggesting that a new offence should be created to incorporate circumstances in which there is no intention of ever meeting the child in person (as set out in the law), but inappropriate communications that have sexual undertones taking place between an adult and a person under the age of 18 years.
Section nine of the Sexual Offences Act speaks to the offence of Sexual Grooming which requires that the offender must have met or travelled with the intention to meet the child on at least two occasions, before the offence is proved.