37 20th annual crime prevention guide In recent years, the Criminal Code has been amended to create new criminal offenses relating to child sexual assault, to specifically include female genital mutilation in the aggravated assault provision, and to amend the provisions on child sex tourism. Currently, Bill C-15 proposes legislation to protect children from sexual exploitation by criminalizing a number of specific actions including luring children on the Internet; transmitting, making available, or exporting child pornography on the Internet; or intentionally accessing child pornography on the Internet. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened. Bill C-15 also proposes measures to make it easier to prosecute people involved in child sex tourism. Federal law also seeks to protect child witnesses. For example, recent amendments to the Canada Evidence Act, which define the forms of evidence that may be admitted in court, allow children, depending on their age and the type of offence involved, to be accompanied by a support person when they testify in court. Further, children can no longer be crossexamined by an accused; they may be allowed to provide testimony outside the courtroom or behind screens; and a videotape may be admitted as evidence, in lieu of a child's inperson testimony. As part of the Children as Victims Project, the Department of Justice du Canada is conducting a comprehensive review and consultation with its provincial/territorial partners and the public to determine the need for further reforms to criminal law and policy, particularly with respect to specific offences against children, children's testimony, and sentencing. The Project is exploring: •adding new child-specific offences to the Criminal Code. Child specific offences under review include: criminal physical abuse of a child, criminal neglect of a child, criminal emotional abuse of a child, child homicide, and failing to report suspected crimes against children. •ensuring that the Criminal Code provisions concerning age of consent are appropriate. The areas under review include raising the general age of consent to sexual activity, and a possible amendment to ensure that a child victim's apparent consent cannot be used as a defence. •ensuring that the Criminal Code contains sentencing provisions to better protect children. Possible modifications currently under review include provisions to: specifically emphasize the importance of denunciation and deterrence of crimes against children; provide the courts with additional tools to require longerterm supervision and mandate the availability of treatment for offenders who pose a continuing danger of re-offending against children; recognize the frequency and seriousness of child abuse in the home and at the hands of parents and caretakers; encourage the courts, when sentencing offenders in these cases, to place less emphasis on an offender's previous good character, since it is not unusual for such offenders to lack a prior criminal record; and require the courts to emphasize the emotional and psychological harms caused to children in assessing the gravity of the offences and the conduct involved. • improving the experience of child witnesses and facilitating their testimony in criminal proceedings. Potential changes under review include: eliminating the required competency hearing for child witnesses; making the use of testimony outside the courtroom or behind screens more widely available; increasing the use of videotaped evidence; changes to the use of hearsay statements; ensuring that delays in the court process do not jeopardize the availability of support for child Child Abuse: A fact sheet from the Department of Justice Canada Department of Justice Canada Family Violence Initiative