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N.B. experts ask parents to have a ‘heart to heart’ with kids on internet safety

WATCH: The arrest of a Moncton man who may have victimized thousands of children online has experts saying it’s time parents check in on what their children are doing online. Laura Brown reports.

FREDERICTON – The province’s Child and Youth Advocate is encouraging parents to sit down for a “heart to heart” with their children on internet safety.

“We talk about, well, should parents be so hyper-vigilant that they’re impacting the privacy of their children?” said Norm Bossé. “Well, when it comes to this, excuse me. Yes. Yes.”

Bossé sayid the RCMP’s arrest of a 24-year-old Moncton man, who allegedly exploited as many as 2,000 young victims online, is a stark reminder of the danger posed by Internet.

According to police, the man lured boys between 10 and 16 years old from at January 2012 to the fall of 2014 by posing as a teenage girl and contacting them through social media and live video chats.

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READ MORE: Moncton man could have sexually exploited thousands online: RCMP

Police say he used a video of a girl that appeared to be live and convinced the boys to undress and initiate sex acts, then recorded the videos and distributed them online.

Bossé is calling it a wake-up call for educators, government and especially, parents.

“If Karl Toft had had the internet, you can take his 200-plus victims and add a zero to it, because he would have been up there in the thousands,” he said. “And you look at Donnie Snook, and you look at his victim count and it’s greater than Toft’s because of the internet.”

The RCMP investigation into the case in New Brunswick began last fall after York Regional Police uncovered information during the Project Hydra investigation.

READ MORE: ‘Project Hydra’ child porn investigation leads to 17 GTA arrests

Up to 19 victims around the world have been identified.

Child psychologist Charles Emmrys said he has had clients who have gone through similar situations.

“The nature of the damage is that you’re no longer a person. You’re a sexual object, so you’re objectified and you’re no longer a whole person,” he said.

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Emmrys said what’s important now is that the victims feel supported enough to come forward, file a police report, and seek help. He said the impact of sexual exploitation can have a long lifespan.

“The repercussions of that injury can last decades,” he said. “So let’s never be deluded into thinking kids get over this quickly and easily. Not necessarily.”

Anybody with information about the case is asked to contact New Brunswick RCMP by phone (506-452-3405) or email (jdivice.divjueei@rcmp-grc.gc.ca), or contact Crime Stoppers.

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