International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children – ICMEC has released a new report – Online Grooming of Children for Sexual Purposes: Model Legislation & Global Review (2017-1st Edition).
While child grooming takes place both face-to-face as well as online, the Internet poses a particular challenge, as those seeking to victimize children take advantage of the relative anonymity online interaction provides. Children may be unsupervised or minimally supervised when online and are generally more willing to share information and trust that the person with whom they are interacting is a friend. Once a trust relationship has been established, children may be pressured and manipulated into engaging in sexual activities like sexual conversations, creating sexual images and videos, or interacting over webcam with the groomer.
Children may not even understand that they are being groomed for future sexual abuse until it is too late. The grooming process can happen quickly, within a matter of minutes in some cases, but the negative impact on the victim is often long-lasting.
It is therefore imperative that parents/guardians and children alike have access to information about the risk of online grooming, and that resources be available to support victims and their families when such abuse occurs. To curtail this growing phenomenon, policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and child-serving professionals must work to take legislative action to prevent, identify, and prosecute online grooming of children.
The Internet is a powerful technology tool capable of connecting people around the world. In less than 20 years, the Internet has evolved from simply being a means of communication used by a select few to a commonplace tool used as a primary way of communicating by countless people.
Along with the incredible speed at which the Internet is expanding and technology is advancing, approximately one third of all Internet users in the world is below the age of 18.
With an estimated 750,000 sexual predators online at any given moment, the risk of children being groomed online logically increases as well. The Internet and new technologies are attractive to online offenders as a means to contact and exploit children. Online predators are able to stay virtually anonymous and conceal their true identities, making it easier to approach children and more difficult for law enforcement agencies to identify them.
The damage that can be done to a child through online grooming is significant, even without a physical meeting ever taking place.
Governments and law enforcement agencies, parents and guardians, private corporations, and everyone in child-serving professions must work together to understand and address risk in order to make our children safer from exploitation, and to create a community of concerned adults working together to protect children.
A section of the report presents the country-specific findings concerning the national legislation of each of the 196 countries reviewed. See Kenya’s progress below.
There is no clear legislation for:
- Online grooming with the intent to meet the child.
- Online grooming regardless of intent to meet the child.
There is no legislation specific to online grooming. There is however legislation on showing pornography to a child.
Passing and implementing legislation that enables the relevant parties to identify, locate, investigate, and prosecute online offenders effectively in an effort to prevent online grooming are crucial steps towards creating a safer online experience for all children.
For the full report follow the link on the ICMEC website https://www.icmec.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Online-Grooming-of-Children_FINAL_9-18-17.pdf
Credits: International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children – ICMEC , The Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy (The Koons Family Institute)