How to deal with Online Sexual Abuse? by Utkarsh Shubham

Online Sexual Abuse is accentuated in recent times when the chats of an Instagram group went public on social media. The chats of the group put a major concern on how people are using the internet nowadays. This has created a threat of online sexual abuse of the recent generation. The internet is one of the major essentials of life. It is used for doing many important works such as schoolwork, playing online games, and watching movies, but many young people also use it to stay in contact with people and to meet new people for friendship, love and/or sex. What one is doing in his/her private space is cannot be easily monitored but this is a matter of great concern. This overlooking may create a great danger to the life of a person.

Online sexual abuse can be done in many forms. Some of them are grooming, love bombing, luring, live streaming, consuming child sexual abuse material, blackmailing, and sextortion. As technology advances, this becomes easier to perform. It has been never easy for the perpetrators to make contact with children, share images of abuse, hide their identity and profits, and inspire each other to commit further crimes in the prior times.

Behind every image, video, or screen, a victim is being sexually exploited. Like other forms of sexual abuse, online abuse can scar victims emotionally and physically for a lifetime. But unlike other forms of abuse, the victim can potentially be re-victimized millions of times every time an image is watched, sent, or received.

The most important aspect while speaking about these is there must be proper communication between the parents and the children. The parents must be open, approachable, and understanding with what the children are doing online. They should teach them to be beware of strangers and never accept friendship requests from people whom they don’t know, verify requests if they look to be coming from someone they do know, never agree to a private chat with a stranger, never post a mobile phone number or home address online to make it public. The child will some sensitive questions and the parents should be ready to answer them in the most decent way possible. Ignoring these questions will lead children to some other way to get their query clear and it may be harmful to both parents and children. The parents should be vigilant and monitor the children’s activity. Educate the children early and often about the dangers of these. They should not only teach them but also spent time with them so that the children became comfortable while talking about these issues. They should make them play more offline games than online ones.

Various technologies can censor the inappropriate content from the reach of the children. Some of them are Restricted Mode in YouTube, Child Mode in various Video on Demand Platforms and if the parents’ wishes to monitor the activities of their children then there is Parental Control from Quick Heal. It restricts children from visiting inappropriate or potentially dangerous websites (adult, chat, violence, game, crime, etc.). It also allows them to set a fixed schedule for Internet access at home.

Identifying and investigating offenders is difficult, as they often adopt technology, such as dark net portals or other anonymous channels, to enable their offending and avoid detection. Online sexual exploitation often occurs across multiple jurisdictions, with victims and offenders in different countries. If one becomes a victim of these abuses, he/she must report to the cyber police. The laws which protect against these crimes are mentioned in Section 67 and 67A of the Information Technology Act. Apart from these, there are various other laws mentioned in the IT Act and IPC.

The author concludes with the note that one should always take proper steps to get protected from this. Although there are various laws to get protected from this but prevention is always better the cure. The Internet should be used as a boon and not as a weapon to harass someone. So, think before you click.

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