122 charged during 30 day crack down on child exploitation in Ontario
The Ontario Provincial Police and several police agencies gather for a media conference in Vaughan, Ont. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 (OPP)
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018 12:52PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 5, 2018 1:03PM EST
In a media conference on Wednesday, the Ontario Provincial Police provided insight into a massive effort to combat child exploitation across the province.
Police revealed that during a 30-day stretch, they charged 122 people with 552 offences related to child exploitation. Officers called this the ‘tip of the iceberg' concerning online child exploitation in Ontario.
Investigators said those arrested include past and present teachers, emergency services personnel, military members and others active in local communities.
Some of the people charged are from Barrie, Orillia, Huntsville, and Bradford.
Investigators called the revelations a snapshot of a widespread problem.
"Perpetrators of online sexual exploitation often minimize their actions by saying they were 'just looking,’” said Staff Sgt. Sharon Hanlon. “Let me be clear, anyone who possesses, distributes, accesses or otherwise supports the supply and demand chain for child sexual abuse images are complicit in the sexual exploitation of children."
Police said they were able to identify 55 victims, some as young as three-years-old, and refer them for help.
"It is our fundamental and moral responsibility to ensure every child grows up safe. On behalf of the OPP, I want to make this message very clear; we will not stand for anyone hurting our kids. We will do everything we can to reduce the threat child predators pose to our children," said Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum.
The investigation will continue as the OPP work with police forces across North American to crack down on child exploitation.
- With files from The Canadian Press