Warnings earlier this year from the NSPCC about the dangers of children being targeted by paedophiles on social media websites have been confirmed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, CEOP.
According to CEOP, an international squad of police officers with special experience of tracking and prosecuting sex offenders, a fast-growing trend is for paedophiles, hiding behind easily set up false social media identities, to pressurise children as young as eight into posting compromising pictures of themselves. The victims are then threatened with exposure to their family if they don’t agree to be filmed writing degrading statements on their bodies, or self-harming.
The cyber-bullying is totally merciless, with the abusers regarding those they abuse as their slaves. In one online conversation intercepted by CEOP an abuser tells a young victim who pleads, and threatens to kill himself, “Your mine (sic) I don’t care if u gonna killur self or whatever u gonna do.(sic) I totally own you”.
According to psychologists the abusers are sadists who seek power and control and who get a sexual kick out of causing as much hurt and pain as possible. So far seven young people have killed themselves to escape the bullying, one in Britain. CEOP say that the 424 victims identified by them,184 in Britain, represented a small fraction of the number abused.
The NSPCC have called for internet safety lessons in all schools, for all parents to talk to their children about the dangers, for children to call Childline if this is not an option and for internet service providers to introduce a long-promised clear and easy choice system for parents to install blocks and filters.