850,000 UK INDIVIDUALS POSE SEXUAL RISK TO CHILDREN
Up to 850,000 individuals in the UK pose a sexual risk to children, according to estimates by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The findings, published in the NCA’s National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime, suggest that children who increased their online footprint during the UK’s national lockdowns increased their exposure to online sexual abuse.
About two-thirds of contact abuse takes place within the family environment, according to the report, which raised concern over the increased vulnerability of children to this contact in the home during the national lockdowns.
The ability of children to interact with strangers through social media platforms was highlighted as a cause of sexual abuse to children, via a process called technology-assisted grooming.
“We must move to a place of zero tolerance for the presence of such material online in order to raise the bar to offending and, most importantly, protect children,” NCA director general Lynne Owens said.
UNDERAGE ONLYFANS ACCOUNTS
Children as young as 13 have been using OnlyFans to make money from posting explicit photos, a BBC investigation has found.
Multiple children and teenagers have been able to bypass the site’s age verification processes without difficulty, allowing them to post explicit pictures of themselves. Some have made several thousands of pounds on the site in the process.
As part of their investigation, the BBC were able to create an account for an underage vendor by using the identification of a 26-year-old.
The BBC also spoke to the parent of a 17-year-old from London who had posted explicit images of herself. The parent discovered the activity after her bank account had been frozen following a £5,000 OnlyFans payment. “I don’t understand why people are paying so much money for this,” she said to the BBC.
According to Childline, many of the underage users of the platform are victims of prior sexual assault, while use of the platform by teenagers can frequently lead to mental health issues including suicidal thoughts.
“The company is not doing enough to put in place the safeguards that prevent children exploiting the opportunity to generate money, but also for children to be exploited,” chief constable Simon Bailey, the UK’s child protection lead, told the BBC.
In a statement, OnlyFans said they had since moved “from one effective ID and age verification system to a new exceptionally effective” one.
POLICE WARNING FOR ONLINE QUIZ PLAYERS
Fans of online quizzes are in danger of falling victim to identity theft, according to warnings by the police.
West Mercia Police sought to raise awareness of the dangers of online quizzes which range from phishing schemes to passport theft.
Quizzes which are often shared on social media platforms like Facebook invite users to answer basic questions about themselves. Many of these quizzes mimic the security questions used by banks and other services, allowing quiz organisers to access personal information under a false identity.
Detective Sergeant John Cooper advised players of online quizzes to think twice before answering quiz questions that could reveal aspects of their personal identity.
“The advice is not to stop engaging with fun things on social media, but to just think about what you’re saying, how personal it is, who you might be saying it to and who might be reading it,” he said.
HUNDREDS OF CALLS TO NSPCC ABUSE HELPLINE
An NSPCC helpline for reporting abuse has received hundreds of calls since it was launched at the beginning of April, it has been revealed.
The helpline received 353 calls, of which 65 were referred to external agencies, including the police.
The line was set up by the Department for Education in response to the growing use of the Everyone’s Invited website earlier this year, which saw hundreds of students share their personal stories of abuse and harassment in schools.
TEACHERS ILL-PREPARED TO HANDLE CLASSROOM SEXUAL ABUSE
Teachers don’t feel properly equipped to deal with instances of sexual abuse in the classroom, according to a new survey.
Almost of third of teachers said they had witnessed peer-on-peer sexual harassment or abuse, yet more than 51% of respondents did not feel that adequate procedures were in place in their school to handle sexual abuse cases.
1,500 teachers participated in the survey, which was organised by the NASUWT teachers’ union in conjunction with BBC Radio 4.
“We actually haven’t seen much being offered in terms of training,” one primary school head teacher told the BBC. “Until the teachers are confident with the delivery of the content, then I don’t think any of them will be confident and fully teaching the children the full curriculum.”
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