What Challenges Face Practitioners?
There are two key challenges facing practitioners, education staff in particular, but also others who are involved in child care, they are as follows:
- Firstly, new technology makes children far more accessible to those who wish to abuse them. It is more anonymous and therefore more difficult to disrupt and it may act as a vehicle for groups of abusers to communicate with one another and provide mutual yet deluded legitimisation.
- Secondly, the new technology introduces new techniques and strategies by which abusers organise their abuse. This has implications for practice, policies and procedures, both for investigation and the detection of crime and also for the subsequent assessment and treatment of the victims
Areas of Concern in Internet and Mobile Phone Technology
- Children who view adult pornography
- Images of children sold on-line for sexual abuse off-line
- Children abused through prostitution using the internet and mobile phones to communicate with their abusers
- Adults or young people who engage in 'cyber sex' with children
- Young people who place images of other young people on-line
- Children living in the same household as adults who download or distribute sexually abusive images of children
- Children groomed on-line for sexual abuse off-line
- Children sold on-line for live sexual abuse on-line
- Children made the subject of child abuse images
Advice for Practitioners
It is important that children understand the risks and can make sensible and informed choices on-line. In a constantly changing technological landscape it is difficult to keep pace with change and criminal activity, and it is recommended that the CEOP (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website and the Thinkuknow (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website are stored in the favourites link of both your PC and the PCs of children in your care in order to keep appraised of developing trends and criminal methods of operation.
- Do try and get up to speed with new technologies through self-learning.
- Do engage and communicate with your children about social networking and learn of their interests
- Do encourage children to keep personal details to a minimum when on-line and only allow trusted friends access to social network pages.
- Do reassure a child that they are not to blame if they have had unwanted sexual contact whilst on-line
- Do take possession of the device, computer, mobile phone, etc to prevent further activity and preserve evidence.
- Do refer to the designated child protection officer within the school if an internet issue occurs.
- Don't challenge any on-line abuser, you may alert them and compromise a criminal investigation
- Don't try and interrogate computers, mobile phones or other devices; you may contaminate or destroy evidence
- Don't try and initiate an investigation but instead contact the police as soon as possible and explain the circumstances
- Don't ignore the incident or issue, children elsewhere may still be at risk.