A Greater Trail teenager escaped jail time but was sentenced to two years of treatment programs for using social media websites to lure children into performing sexual acts.
The youth, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pled guilty to 10 out of 47 charges earlier this year related to Internet luring, extortion and impersonation. He was sentenced Tuesday in Castlegar court.
The youth was deemed “compliant” with a wide range of assessments determining what his motivations were, which steps need to be utilized to avoid recidivism rates and how to treat his “addiction.”
The boy’s legal counsel described him as “remorseful” and optimistic about moving on with his life with aid from counsellors and probation officers.
The judge’s decision for no jail time received support.
“The assessments were all clear that to do anything in a custodial setting would be counter-productive,” said Philip Seagram, the deputy regional Crown counsel. “It wouldn’t help him and it wouldn’t help society, and the emphasis is on treatment. This is the best way that that treatment and supervision can be accomplished.”
Seagram said there was a pattern of behaviour that the youth found difficult to stop once he became engaged in it, although he recognized it as a problem.
Seagram thought the Intensive Support Supervision Order (ISSO) was appropriate because it is the most intense form of supervision for youth.
According to a government website, the ISSO is an intensive support and supervision order that was introduced in the Youth Criminal Justice Act as an alternative to custody. It is similar to probation—an intensive support and supervision order is served in a community with a specific set of restrictions.
The advantage of an ISSO is that it provides authorities the opportunity to monitor offenders more closely and aid them to changing their behaviour patterns.
“There obviously is a generational factor here, as the technology develops, and young people (today) are far more adept at manipulating it and know more about it,” said Seagram alluding to the demand
for parents to educate themselves about available social media and how it impacts relationships with people. The boy was charged with 47 counts including impersonation with intent, extortion, uttering threats, communication through social media networks to lure children under the age of 18, obtaining sexual services of a person under the age of 18 and invitation to sexual touching.
“It’s a huge world out there and this is just a small story about what’s possible,” Seagram explained.
Criminal defence lawyer Ken Wyllie said some people from the older generation under-estimate the available resources online and all three authorities agreed that parents need to know what their kids are doing online and position computers in accessible places to monitor how they are being used.
“I’m satisfied that at the end of the day,” said Wyllie. “This matter was dealt with appropriately and there isn’t a risk of reoffending.”
Sentencing bans the youth from visiting explicit websites, using devices that offer Internet capabilities (including gaming consoles, computers and smart phones) with supervision excluding employment searches, visiting children under the age of 16 without supervision and from contacting victims as well as their families. He will also be required to remain in B.C., provide a sample of DNA and attend a full-time program to treat his addiction.
“And if it is not possible to cure, to train the individual to avoid succumbing the addictions on each of the counts,” concluded Judge Don Sperry.