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Internet and social media

Offenders access social media platforms; for example, Facebook, Blackberry Messaging (BBM), What’s app and Twitter, to identify young people whom they can groom.

Technology can facilitate sexual exploitation of children. Where abusive images have been posted on or shared via the internet there is little control over who can access them. This can lead to repeat victimisation.

GPS technology available for mobile devices can be used to identify the location where a photograph was taken using co-ordinates which reveal the location to just a few metres away.

CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child realising it. For example, a child or young person is persuaded to post images of themselves on the internet and/or via mobile phones.

In some cases, the images are subsequently used as a bargaining tool by the perpetrators and threats of violence and intimidation are used as methods of coercion.

Offenders may use technology to exploit children and young people in the following ways:

  • Harassment and bullying through text messaging.
  • Purchasing mobile phones for victims and sharing their numbers among group or gang members.
  • Randomly contacting children via social networking sites.
  • Using ‘friends’ lists on networking sites of known victims to target children and young people.
  • Viewing extreme or violent pornography and discussing it during sexual assaults.
  • Posting images of victims with rival gang members to invite a sexual assault as punishment.
  • Filming and distributing incidents of rape.
  • Distributing Blackberry PIN numbers for lists of girls labelled as ‘easy’.

Some of the risky things you may come across online are:

  • Bullying by peers and people you might consider 'friends'
  • Seeing inappropriate or harmful content (e.g. rude or extremely violent pictures)
  • Involvement in illegal or inappropriate content (e.g. posting sexual pictures)
  • Posting personal information that can identify and locate you offline
  • Being persuaded to do illegal or inappropriate things through contact with strangers
  • Seeing information and talking with others online who encourage self-harm
  • Seeing racist or hate material
  • Glorifying activities such as drug use or excessive drinking
  • Physical harm to young people in making video content, such as doing stunts and other risky activities
  • Being encouraged to leave or run away from home by someone you met online

You can find out more about how to keep yourself safe online - Think U Know www.thinkuknow.co.uk

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