Social networks urged to crack down on child 'grooming'

Social network safety policies are under question, after a UK children's charity urged social media firms to do more to crack down on online child "grooming".

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Social networks urged to crack down on child 'grooming' - NewsMavens
Child and adult. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

On the internet, anything can happen. Quite literally. Social media firms have unprecedented power over entertainment, news, advertising and politics. They also wield power to protect people. But this case shows they are not utilising the tools available to shield society's most vulnerable from sexual predators.

The story underlines the importance of social media firms taking responsibility for what happens on their networks in order to keep children -- and the rest of us -- safe online.

family, media

Details from the story:

  • Child grooming is the process of an adult gaining the trust of a child with the intention of manipulating and sexually exploiting them.
  • Child grooming increasingly occurs online, but can also occur in person, perpetrated by a stranger or by someone they know.
  • According to The Times, 1,316 offences of child online grooming were recorded in the first six months of a new child grooming law, implemented in April in England and Wales.
  • Of the 1,316 reported cases of grooming, 31 percent were on Facebook, 18 percent on Snapchat, and 14 percent on Instagram.
  • The rest were about incidences on Whatsapp, via text, in person or other online platforms such as Xbox Live.
  • The new law prohibits online sexual communication with a child. Before this rule, police could not intervene with online child grooming cases until predators attempted to meet with victims in person.
  • Children's charity the NSPCC said the new policy under a new government-led internet safety strategy "doesn’t go far enough."
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