Online Child GroomingInternet chat can be used in creative ways to connect children together. However,there are dangers for children using chat unsupervised, especially where adults use itas a means of seeking to strike up sexual relationships with young teenagers orchildren. Pedophiles have recognized the opportunity the Internet affords them tocontact children at a safe distance, building up a relationship with them for the solepurpose of persuading them into sexual activity. The techniques which sex offendersuse to entice children into sexual activity are known as ‘grooming”. It is not clear thatthe current law in the UK affords children the protection they need with regard toonline grooming.
Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it anoffence for an adult who has established contact with achild on at least two occasions to meet, or travel with theintention of meeting a child, with intent to commit a sexualoffence against that child. The offence is punishable by upto ten years imprisonment.
The previous contact can occur through, for example,meetings, telephone conversations or communications onthe Internet, and it is designed to tackle behaviourwhereby the adult gains the childs trust and confidence sothat he can arrange to meet the child for the purpose ofcommitting a sexual offence.
Crucially, the intended sexual offence against the childdoes not have to take place because the legislation allowsfor the offender to be arrested when he sets off to meetthe child. Alternatively, the offence could be used where anadult discovers the behaviour and takes over the contact,leading the offender to believe that he is going to meet achild instead of an adult. Here, careful use of the CriminalAttempts Act 1981 would ensure that the offence is stillcommitted.
Notably, the course of conduct prior to the meeting thattriggers the offence may have an explicitly sexual content,such as the adult entering into conversations with the childabout the sexual acts he wants to engage her in when theymeet, or sending images of adult pornography, in otherwords abusive cyber sex interactions.
However, the legal system recognizes that the priormeetings or communication need not have an explicitlysexual content, although when the meeting is arranged oroccurs, it must be possible to demonstrate that theoffender has the relevant intention to commit a sexual actagainst the child.
Sexual grooming of children also occurs on the Internet.Some abusers will pose as children online and makearrangements to meet with them in person. Facebook hasbeen involved in controversy as to whether or not it takesenough precautions. Jim Gamble leader of the ChildExploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) of theUnited Kingdom, stated in April 2010 that his officereceived 292 complaints about Facebook users through theyear of 2009 yet "None of these complaints came directfrom Facebook." A spokesman for Facebook responded tocomplaints by meeting Ceop directly in person, and saying,adamantly, "We take the issue of safety very seriously."
In 2003, MSN implemented restrictions in their chat roomspurportedly intended to help protect children from adultsseeking sexual conversations with them.In 2005, Yahoo! chat rooms were investigated by the NewYork State attorney generals office for allowing users tocreate rooms whose names suggested that they were beingused for this purpose. That October, Yahoo! agreed to"implement policies and procedures designed to ensure"that such rooms would not be allowed.
Multiple programs have been developed to help identifygrooming and warn parents. The software studies chatroom and other Instant messaging logs for activity that mayidentify grooming or other potentially suspicious activities.Some of the technologies have been adapted to socialnetworking services and ISPs
The case of Patrick Green…http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/int
Facebook• Facebook has regulations where if you suspect that someone is online grooming or pretending to be somebody else there is an option where you can report them and you give the reasons or reporting them• The user may be removed from Facebook if they are reported for online grooming• There is also an option to block another user, this means they aren’t visible on your Facebook and you can’t have any contact with this person – self regulating
Facebook• Facebook gives you the option of how secure your site is. You can have an open profile and anybody can contact you. You also have the option to have your profile private where you accept your friend requests therefore you know who is sharing your details, pictures and who is able to talk and contact you.
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