COVID-19 sparks rise in online child predators, says UNICEF chief

OTTAWA — The head of the United Nations children's agency says the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked an increase in online child sexual predators that organizations, governments and parents need to take more seriously.

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director, outlined that concern in a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press this week.

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With half the planet's children now out of school because of the pandemic, Fore says that has created new risks for kids in developing countries who are now spending more time on the internet.

She says COVID-19 has yet to hit hardest in the poorest countries but, when it does, it could create a second wave of the virus back in the world's developed countries in the fall.

Fore also praises Canada's efforts as a leader in helping young girls and women in the developing world, including getting more of them into schools.

Fore also made a direct appeal to Canadians to give generously to support UNICEF's efforts to help children in poor countries who have no access to clean water, soap and other basic sanitary conditions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 8, 2020.

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