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Police warning parents and caregivers to be aware of violent online groups targeting children


Lethbridge Police are warning the public about violent online groups targeting youth across widely accessible messaging platforms and urging parents to be aware of the risk, recognize potential red flags and take steps to safeguard online activity.

In late January, police received intelligence information related to the activity of a local online profile participating in various group chats associated to violent extremists who target and groom young people, manipulating them to participate in self-harm, acts of violence and the distribution of child sexual exploitation material.

The Lethbridge user was identified as a teenaged boy who had become entrenched in extremist ideologies propagated by a number of online groups. The youth’s online activity included posts depicting incidents of violence, weapons, self-harm and child sexual exploitation material.

The 14-year-old, who cannot be identified, is charged with making child pornography, distributing child pornography, possession of child pornography, non-consensual distribution of intimate images and making/possession of explosives (related to a video post involving a Molotov cocktail). He is scheduled to appear in youth court Feb. 28.

Law enforcement agencies in Canada and the U.S. have issued recent warnings about violent online groups that target youth on messaging platforms to coerce them into posting acts of self-harm, suicide and child sexual exploitation material.

These groups use threats, manipulation and blackmail to control victims. A warning by the FBI advises the groups use many names including 676, 764, CVLT, Court, Kaskar, Harm Nation, Leak Society and H3ll, but they continue to evolve and form subgroups using different names. They primarily target young people between the ages of eight and 17-years-old.

It is critical that parents and caregivers talk to their kids about healthy online relationships, monitor their online activity and profiles, understand the apps and technology young people are using and be mindful of potential red flags. Further, and perhaps most importantly, cultivate a relationship of trust and be a resource if/when a child encounters issues online.

Red flags to look out for include:

  • Sudden behaviour changes such as becoming withdrawn, moody, or irritable.
  • Sudden changes in appearance, especially neglect of appearance.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  • Dropping out of activities and becoming more isolated and withdrawn.
  • Scars, often in patterns.
  • Fresh cuts, scratches, bruises, bite marks, burns, or other wounds.
  • Carvings, such as words or symbols, on the skin.
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants in hot weather.
  • Threatening to commit suicide and openly talking about death, not being wanted or needed or not being around.

When sharing content or engaging with individuals online:

  • Monitor children’s online activity and discuss risks associated with sharing personal content.
  • Use discretion when posting images, videos, and personal content online, particularly those that include children or their information. Images, videos, or personal information posted online can be captured, manipulated, and distributed by malicious actors without your knowledge or consent. Once content is shared on the internet, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove once it is circulated or posted by other parties.
  • Run frequent online searches of you and your children’s information (e.g., full name, address, phone number, etc.) to help identify the exposure and spread of personal information on the internet.
  • Apply privacy settings on social media accounts—including setting profiles and your friends’ lists as private—to limit the public exposure of your photos, videos, and other personal information.
  • Consider using reverse image search engines to locate any photos or videos that have circulated on the internet without your knowledge.
  • Exercise caution when accepting friend requests, communicating, engaging in video conversations, or sending images to individuals, you do not know personally. Be especially wary of individuals who immediately ask or pressure you to provide them photos or videos. Those items could be screen-captured, recorded, manipulated, shared without your knowledge or consent, and used to exploit you or someone you know.
  • Do not provide any unknown or unfamiliar individuals with money or other items of value. Complying with malicious actors does not guarantee your sensitive photos or content will not be shared.
  • Use discretion when interacting with known individuals online who appear to be acting outside their normal pattern of behavior. Malicious actors can easily manipulate hacked social media accounts.
  • Secure social media and other online accounts using complex passwords or passphrases and multi-factor authentication.
  • Research the privacy, data sharing, and data retention policies of social media platforms, apps, and websites before uploading and sharing images, videos, or other personal content.


Lethbridge Police Service
135 1 Avenue South
Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0A1

Non-Emergency Phone: 403-328-4444
General Inquiries Phone: 403-327-2210
Email: General Inquiries
(not monitored 24/7)

Hours for public access:
Monday to Friday - 7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Closed weekends and statutory holidays



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