In today’s modern world, social media has drastically changed our lifestyle, one can even say that we are living in social media so our children are exposed to the whole world while sitting in our home. Which makes them the potential victims of online sexual abuse. So firstly we have to understand the fact that online environment have same threat as offline environment as some people still have the perception that online things are less real and this is not a potential threat.
A case happened in march 2013,in which a 13 year old girl committed suicide by jumping in front of a train in a quiet small town of Sweden. After investigation it was found that she had been sexually abused and had been forced to send some unseemly photos of her to a boy who was actually a 44 year old man pretending to be a boy of her age.
Such cases happen some get reported many not. Now the question arise, HOW? such criminal commits these kind of crimes so easily.
Here is an acceptable answer, The perpetrator who is in search of a child, to do their indecent things firstly gain the confidence of the child by generally pretending to be someone else. After that in the name of love or other relationship they start sexting which means sharing of sexual content in the form of messages, images and videos. Once a child gets involved in their sexting, this so called flirting gets converted into sextortion. Sextortion is define as blackmailing to carry forward the sexting now in even more disturbing way. And a disheartening fact is that 10% of youths who engaged in sexting reported that they had been coerced to do it. Unfortunately the laws do not explicity criminalize pressuring and manipulating people to commit online acts themselves.
In a study of National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on high school students, children with experience of online sexual abuse reported higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress symptoms than children with experience of offline sexual abuse.
So now the big question HOW TO STOP IT?
Answer to this question is quite certain as we all know that “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”. And in fact there are already laws against it but they have some blind spots and perpetrator may not get punishment according to his act. Hence, its better to stop these crimes before they are committed. Teachers and Parents play a vital role in this as they are the people, who are in contact with child for the most of the time.
METHODS OF PREVENTION
1. Talking to a child about this is the most important step to create a safer online environment for them.
• One have to make them aware about the potential danger of social media but should try not to freak them out.
• One should make them aware them about their own rights.
• One should explain the threat of anonymouisity to children and that they should not make contact to anonymous people on social media.
2. Parents should involve more in their child’s internet activity and should talk to them about their online friends, recent posts etc.
3. If a child is between the age group of 5-13, parents should keep some features on such as Parental control, Restricted search to stop inappropriate recommendations.
If we make them aware of this evil, we can prevent them for becoming the victims. Just by talking to them about this, we provide them a armour which keeps them safe while they connect to the world.