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Blame predator, not victim, say police

Following the arrest last week of a North Bay resident on 188 charges related to sexual crimes against young girls, police are urging parents to talk to their children about social media.

“Girls need to know why these things happen,” said D/Cst Helen Boissonneault. “This man was procuring girls where they feel the safest, when they’re online at home. They could even be sitting beside mom and dad the parents wouldn’t be any the wiser.”

Boissonneault told the News predators can ask to be ‘friends’ with girls on social media in a variety of ways that at the time don’t seem suspicious.

“Once they realize what’s happening, it’s very difficult for a young person to tell their parents that they’ve been talking with someone they didn’t know who is now asking about sex.

“Young people are afraid of being berated, of being told by their parents that they were stupid to get into a situation like this,” she said. “That’s very upsetting for them.”

Boissonneault said in many cases the victims have contemplated what to do for a long time while not knowing how to get out of the social interaction and as a result feel guilty or responsible for what is going on.

“Having an open discussion and telling your children they are not to blame are the most important actions to take,” she said. “These girls need to know that they are not the ones who did anything wrong. This person should not be talking to them about sex, no matter how the subject came up. Young people need to understand that.”

Boissonneault says often parents first reaction is to take all social media away from young people, and cautions against it.

“Fear of losing that contact with their social community is often the number one reason why young people won’t tell their parents when they are in a situation like this.

“Put yourself in their place. This is how they communicate and they are really afraid of losing that, so much so, that they will hide a situation like this from their parents,” she said.

She also cautions against making judgments when young girls do inappropriately interact with sexual predators.

“You don’t know what that person is offering, what they’re saying. If the victim bites, that’s when the conversation starts to escalate. The ones that have engaged sexually, then it just become that much more difficult for them to discuss it with anyone.”

Regardless of what the victims in this case may or may not have done, “no one at that age can give sexual consent.

“When they come to their parents they need support,” said Boissonneault. “Put the blame on the offender, where it belongs, not on the kids.”

She says that while it may not seem like family time conversation, “parents need to be having these discussions around the dinner table.

North Bay Nipissing News