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Prince George MP speaking out following local boy’s suicide

‘Parents need to know just how fast this can happen’
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty speaks about Carson Cleland's death during Question Period on Nov. 29 in the House of Commons.

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty is calling for greater protection for children from online predators following the suicide of a 12-year-old Prince George boy who was the victim of online sextortion.

“I am heartbroken, and I am angry. I’m angry that yet another family has lost a loved one to suicide. Carson Cleland was just like any other twelve-year-old boy from Prince George.  He was involved in sports, he was active in his community, but he fell prey to a sadistic predator who’s only motivation was to do harm,” Doherty said Wednesday in Parliament.

Mounties issued a statement Monday, more than six weeks after the boy died, to warn parents about the risks youth face on the internet. 

The statement said officers went to the boy’s home on Oct. 12 and found him with a gunshot wound. Their investigation later determined he killed himself as a result of online sextortion.

It is a form of blackmail in which threats are made to reveal a person's online sexual behaviour, such as photos or videos obtained deceptively.

“Ryan Carson’s dad has urged us all to do better. To be better, to make sure parents talk to their kids, check their internet history, have those tough conversations. 12 hours from the predators first point of contact to Carson’s death. It was 12 hours. That’s an hour for each year of Carson’s life,” said Doherty.  

“Carson’s dad told me it happened so fast. Parents needs to know just how fast this can happen. His mom Nicola told me that we need to have a safe place for our children to grow and actually be children. We need to find these predators faster.”

Doherty urged for more to be done to protect children.

“Since 2015, there’s been an 825 per cent increase in the making and distribution of child pornography. We have laws in place, and we need to enforce them," he hold his fellow MPs. "We need to provide law enforcement with the tools and the resources they need to bring these bastards to justice and provide justice for the victims.”

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Cooper said the practice of online predators extorting people for money or sexual favours is on the rise.

"Anywhere that youth have access to social media, this is happening," she said.

Many of the victims of sextortion are young males. A review of 322 cases sent to the national sexual abuse tip line in July last year found that 92 per cent of cases in which the gender of the victim was known involved boys or young men.

The Prince George detachment said in its statement it had received 62 reports of online sextortion so far this year, surpassing the 56 they had last year.

If you or someone you know is thinking about ending their life or are concerned about someone who is, you can call:

  • 9-1-1 if someone is in immediate danger to themselves or others
  • Northern BC Crisis Line - 1-888-562-1214
  • BC Crisis line - 1-866-661-3311 
  • Text CONNECT to 686868 (the Kids Help Line) or call 1-800-668-6868
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Line - 1-833-456-4566

-with files from the Canadian Press