What is luring a child?

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What is luring a child?

Child luring is the crime of “telecommunicating” with an underage person (or someone believed to be an underage person) to commit or arrange a sexual or child abduction crime against them. Telecommunicating includes phone or video calling, texting, emailing, posting on a website, messaging over the internet, or even speaking over a radio – basically anything other than in-person face-to-face communication.

Whether the person is “underage” depends on what crime the communication was for the purpose of facilitating. This is broken down by section 172.1(1) of the Criminal Code, which defines child luring as telecommunicating with a person who is (or who the accused believes is):

  • Under the age of 18 for the purposes of facilitating any of the following crimes against that person: sexual exploitation (section 153)(1) of the Criminal Code), incest (section 155), child pornography crime (163.1), parent or guardian procuring sexual activity (170), householder permitting sexual activity (171), trafficking of a person under 18 years old (279.011) and related crimes (279.02(2) and 279.03(2)), and obtaining consideration for, materially benefitting from, or procuring sexual services from a person under 18 years of age (286.1(2), 286.2(2), 286.3(2)).
  • Under the age of 16 for the purposes of facilitating any of the following crimes against that person: sexual interference with a person under 16 (151), invitation to sexual touching (152), bestiality (160(3)), exposing genitals to a person under 16 (i.e., “indecent exposure”) (173(2)), sexual assault (271), sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party, or causing bodily harm (272), aggravated sexual assault (273), and abducting a child under 16 years of age (280).
  • Under the age of 14 for the purposes of facilitating the commission the offence of abducting a child under the age of 14 years (280(1)).

A common child luring allegation is messaging someone under 18 and asking for naked pictures (child pornography crime) or arranging to meet and engage in sexual behaviour with someone under 16 (sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching).

I have separate FAQ about sexual exploitation, incest, child pornography crime, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, indecent exposure, and sexual assault.

Child luring is considered a serious crime and may result in lengthy prison sentences. I have separate FAQ on the defences to luring a child and the penalties for child luring conviction. 

Is it child luring if I never actually committed the crime?

Child luring itself is the crime, which you commit by the communication itself. Whether or not you committed the crime that was the purpose of the communication is a separate issue. For example, if you, at 21 years old, communicate with someone you think is 15 years old for the purpose of having sex with them (which would be sexual interference), but did not actually have sex with them, then you still committed the crime of child luring.

Is it child luring if it was for someone else?

You can commit child luring by communicating with a child for the purpose of someone else committing a crime against them. For example, if you text an underage person asking if they want to have sex with your friend in exchange for marijuana (which would be obtaining sexual services for a person under 18), then you committed child luring.

Is it child luring if I did not know they were underage?

Not knowing the person was underage is not a defence to a child luring charge unless you took all reasonable steps to figure out how hold the person was, and still genuinely and reasonably believed that they were not underage.

Is it child luring if they were not actually underage?

You can commit child luring even if the person is not underage – believing that they are underage is enough. Sometimes, people are convicted of child luring for speaking with an undercover police officer who they believed to be an underaged person for the purposes of committing a sexual offence against them.