NSPCC: Online Child Abuse Up 24%, More Youngsters Using Apps & Webcams

New research from the NSPCC’s Childline service has revealed the number of counselling sessions for online sexual abuse worries rose by 24% last year, a result of more and more children now using apps and webcams. The majority of the young people involved were aged 12 to 15, with almost two-thirds being girls whilst one in eight of the sessions related specifically to grooming, an increase of 21%.

“The internet has brought many positive changes, for instance, most of Childline’s contacts from children and young people are now online. But it has also brought dangers, and online grooming is a real risk,” said Childline founder Esther Rantzen.

“It can be very hard for young people to identify that they are being manipulated or exploited, or to recognize that something is not right. We want children and young people to know that Childline is there for them, whatever their worry, to answer any questions and offer support and advice.”

Claire Stead, online safety ambassador at Smoothwall, explained the news that online child abuse has increased is of momentous concern and highlights the need to monitor children’s online safety. 

“Online abuse isn’t something limited to the home. As the web has become a classroom staple, teachers and schools have a responsibility to keep pupils safe from issues such as child sexual exploitation. Right now, children often see protection such as web filtering as an irritant and they try to get around it. We need to put schools and their staff ahead of this, ensuring they have the knowledge and tools needed to protect children fully, digitally enabling them without risking their safety.”

It’s no longer enough for schools to block the obvious threatening sites, Stead added, as with recent research suggesting 14/15-year-olds are the most tech-savvy in the UK, web filters alone are not enough to stop youngsters accessing harmful material.

“This is at best naïve and at worst, neglectful,” she argued. “Governing bodies and proprietors must now not only ensure they have the most appropriate ‘web filtering’ in place but also the appropriate ‘monitoring’ in place. If schools can ensure they have appropriate filtering and monitoring they then have a layered defense to protect children and can feel confident that the web is being used as an educational tool, and isn't a safety risk.”

To show your support for all the fantastic work Childline do and have a great evening along the way, why not take a look at attending the White Hat Ball 2017 in January?

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