'Lolli' exhibit sheds light on plight of child pornography victims

Nearly 11,000 lollipops are on display in Toronto to represent cases of child pornography found every 12 hours online. Kamil Karamali explains.

It’s an empty shipping crate, roughly 30 feet by 13 feet, covered wall-to-wall and ceiling in lollipops.

10,824 lollipops to be exact.

The hard candies represent the number of child pornography images detected online globally every 12 hours, by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

“In the offender community, the term ‘lolli’ is a very disturbing term that is one used to describe victims or child sexual abuse material,” said the Centre’s executive director, Lianna McDonald.

“On the flip side, it’s sort of a symbol of childhood,” added McDonald. “We cannot show an image of child sexual abuse material, but at the same time we needed to have some sort of symbolic representation of this big problem.

“So this was that tension of uncomfortableness, but important proxy to make that connection.”

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is teaming up with the Ontario Provincial Police to showcase the exhibit from July 12th to the 14th at the Stackt Market.


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“More than 10,000 a day, we don’t have the resources. The police can’t do this alone,” said Staff Sgt. Sharon Hanlon of the OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Unit. “So this relationship is incredibly important to us.”

Hanlon adds that the exhibit shocks fellow officers as well.

“I have many of my colleagues who don’t do this line of work and are just kind of taken aback,” said Hanlon.

“These are real people. You think of images of child sexual abuse not being real kids. These are real kids with real feelings, real rights, and real pain.”

In 2017, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection started ‘Project Arachnid;’ a tool that flags potential images of child pornography online. It has found more than 10-million pictures of child sexual abuse since its inception.

“We had no idea the scope of the problem,” said McDonald.

She adds that the program has allowed them to not only get an idea of the number of child pornography images online, but the behaviour of some of the users who distribute them.

“The quantity of the material and also the lack of compliance of how readily available it was, what the offender community were doing and talking about,” said McDonald. “And in fact, how in some instances we were not seeing compliance in getting this material removed.”

McDonald said the project is still trying to find ways to get companies to comply in removing the images after they issue notices.


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The Centre has also received help from seven different countries to help with a backlog of reports it’s currently dealing with.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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