'Online sex abuse of children is growing trend', warn Brit net cops
Spike in 'unfiltered' smartphone usage among kids blamed
Paedophiles are increasingly targeting kids online and pressuring them to perform sex acts that are recorded on mobile phones, net-cop quango the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre warned today.
It said, after carrying out joint research with the University of Birmingham, that an "alarming new trend" was starting to emerge with children being groomed on social networking sites.
Last year, CEOP said it had received 1,145 reports from the public relating to online sexual abuse. It added that offenders attempting to meet children offline had fallen to 7 per cent of those reports compared with 12 per cent in 2011.
Peter Davies, who heads up CEOP, said:
What we are seeing is that for a growing proportion of grooming cases reported to the centre, online abuse is an end in itself. UK children can be targeted from anywhere and offenders will cast their net widely to target large numbers of children. Things can quickly spiral out of control for victims.
By way of example, CEOP said it had led an international investigation in 2010 called Operation Hattie that had probed activity in 12 countries over the course of 20 months. In December last year, that inquiry led to the arrest and conviction of two Kuwaiti brothers who had targeted 110 children worldwide, including 78 kids in the UK.
In that case, the men had coerced children to perform sex acts online but no evidence was found that meeting the victims offline was ever the intended endgame.
CEOP noted that a sharp increase in smartphone usage among 12- to 15-year-olds - up 21 per cent in just a year - meant that young people were able to communicate and share images more easily than ever with strangers online.
It said that instant messaging - presumably such as BBM on Blackberry phones - had been used by paedophiles in around a third of the public reports of grooming the net cops received in the past 12 months.
CEOP suggested that parents needed to do more to protect their children. Those kids whose internet activities are monitored and who have more open dialogue about perceived dangers on the web were said to be "more resilient to the techniques used by offenders".
The group warned, however, that two-thirds of parents of 12- to 15-year-olds with a net-enabled phone do not put in filters to restrict their kids' online access. In contrast, one in two parents have "technical controls" in place for their child's computer at home.
Separately, the deputy children's commissioner told the Daily Mail today that parents should police their kids' internet access more stringently.
Sue Berelowitz said:
Parents need to think carefully about social network sites because there is an awful lot of stuff circulating on there.
They should be concerned about their children putting stuff on there – anything sexual, such as kissing, showing their bodies, exposing any flesh. It could attract undue attention and it could get shared.
It is important that children understand about the safe use of social networking sites and don’t talk to certain types of people. There is a lot that parents can and should be doing.
The Register understands that representatives from the ISP industry met government officials last week to discuss how big-name telcos were progressing with the so-called "active choice" option. That idea places the onus on parents to filter out content they consider to be inappropriate for their children.
Active Choice is apparently now favoured by Prime Minister David Cameron, who late last year backed down from trying to force ISPs to introduce network-level filtering on their services or else face regulation.
TalkTalk is the only large telco to have voluntarily adopted such a method. BT, Virgin Media and BSkyB all offer software to their subscribers that can be used to filter content on individual devices.
One of the key issues around the notion that ISPs could be tasked with filtering content is in determining how age verification might work.
A spokesman for the Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) told El Reg:
"ISPA is aware that there are discussions around age verification but are not sure exactly what is being asked and how this would work in practice." The lobby group added it was currently seeking clarity from the government about the matter. ®
Bloody useless parents and CEOP trying to justify their existence
Why does a kid need an iphone or similar?
If you're a paranoid parent then get them a BASIC phone, if the kids complain its YOUR job to put YOUR foot down and look after YOUR children and tell them basic or nothing. No internet, no camera.
It's the same with internet access. They are YOUR brats, YOUR responsibility, don't want to have your evenings totally screwed up for 18 years, easy...DON'T HAVE KIDS. Put the computer in the living room or kitchen, somewhere you can keep an eye on whats happening.
The excuse that the "kids know more about it than me" is frankly pathetic. If you can't be arsed to learn about how to use a computer, dont give your kids free and unfettered access to it.
I'm genuinely tired of lazy parents who can't be arsed to look after their own kids, who fold at the first cry of "I want" and buy their spawn iphones, ipads, laptops powerful enough to run a space station and then complain when the kids go off and do something with them. Then they call for this ban and than ban and this restriction and that restriction.
It's NOT my job to care about your kids, it;s NOT my job to make sure that they are "safe" online and if you're kid is stupid enough to MMS or put a naked picture of themselves up on the internet it isn't even the fault of the paedo its YOUR fault for being a SHIT PARENT!
It looks as though the "children" these people want to protect are mostly what would be called teenagers.
They need protecting, but I wonder if they were encouraged to do anything that they wouldn't have done in private anyway? I reckon this is something that would be better handled by sex education than by a panic over internet threats to our precious bodily fluids.
Re: .... nice
When I were a lad you got porn from the top shelf in the newsagents, swapped it around a group of friends. Its not really any worse now.
People are just lapping up the stupidity from government and idiots who want to 'protect us' from everything - which means allowing us nothing.
As I said I really can't see some 14 year old school girl doing anything with a mobile phone for some fat 40 year old sad git. Sorry, it just doesn't ring true at all. And if it is true then the girl concerned needs far more help than some lock on their phone, they need appropriate love and affection from their family, their family might need guidance on how to do this. The rest of us don't need stupidity heaped on stupidity just in case.