Advocating for the government to protect children from online abusers

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OUR counselors here at Yorkshire Childline support children who have experienced abuse of all kinds every day, but in recent years we have seen an increase in the number of abuse-based contacts from the internet.

This is an issue that has also been recorded by police forces across the UK – over the past four years police reports of child sexual abuse offenses with an online element have increased by 78% nationally.

The numbers recorded by police in Yorkshire and Humberside have increased by roughly the same amount during this period, but there are still concerns that the number of children and young people who have experienced this type of abuse may be high. higher and has not yet been reported to police.

It goes without saying that children should be able to explore the online world safely, and right now the government is considering an online safety bill that could ensure that social media is better regulated in the UK and offer more protection to young people online.

Unfortunately, however, we believe the bill falls far short of the protections it is meant to provide to keep our children safe online. As it stands, the online safety bill simply will not provide the protection children and young people deserve from the threats that evolve online.

Research has shown us that groomers target and contact children using social media first, starting a relationship there before moving on to crypto sites or messaging services to commit their horrific crimes.

Unless tech companies can take this risk into account when designing their sites and share information about offenders or potential threats to child safety, they are putting children at risk.

As it stands, the bill simply does not cover this, nor does it treat the facilitation of child abuse with the same severity as the illegal material it causes. It does not correct current deficiencies in child safety, does not ensure that children cannot access apps that are not suitable for them, and does not hold senior executives accountable for their companies’ failure to fight. against the safety of children.

We have reported these issues to the government and continue to advise them on how the bill can be improved to ensure that the safety of children and youth is at the heart of the new legislation.

On top of that, we’re also relaunching our Wild West Web campaign to push for social media regulation and scale up this unique opportunity.

Wild West Web is a campaign we first launched in 2018, highlighting the need for stronger legislation to deal with the dangers of the online world. We want senior executives in tech companies to be held accountable and the voices of children and youth to be heard, because as it is now, children at increased risk of sexual abuse will receive fewer benefits. statutory plea that a customer of a post. office or passenger in a bus.

We need your help to ensure the government makes the best decision at the right time to give children and youth the protection they deserve online.

We are calling on all those who want the government to ensure that the online world is as safe as possible for children to write to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and ask her to return the Online Safety Bill as strong and protective as possible.

Sometimes we have a real opportunity to make a real difference in the world, and when one of those opportunities presents itself, shouldn’t we take it?


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