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back to article 'Online sex abuse of children is growing trend', warn Brit net cops

Paedophiles are increasingly targeting kids online and pressuring them to perform sex acts that are recorded on mobile phones, net-cop quango the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre warned today. It said, after carrying out joint research with the University of Birmingham, that an "alarming new trend" was …

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Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

...won't the child be more able to remove the blocks?

Maybe children shouldn't be allowed smart phones. What do they need them for?

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Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

I agree with you, however my wife says it would be unfair for our daughter not to have a mobile as most of her class has one. I pointed out to my wife that as she attended a CyberBullying in Schools seminar last week, then she should understand why not letting our daughter have a mobile is a good idea.

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Re: Really?

ISPs providing content blocks tend to require evidence of age to remove blocks - a passport or driving licence, for example, with details matching those of the account holder.

What's not clear is how this sort of blocking would prevent the access via instant messaging (the Reg mentions only BBM, presumably being unaware that these new-fangled smartphones also do Skype, MSN, WhatsApp etc etc) - that sort of thing is not usually covered in any ISP level blocks -and , yes, blocks at phone level are usually only too removable by anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

I think it's a bit of a cliché to suggest kids are more technically able than their parents, mine certainly aren't. On the other hand I agree that kids don't need smart phones, or in my opinion phones at all. I also don't let my kids use social media or have unsupervised internet access.

In my experience kids don't need encouraging to use computers but they do need encouraging to play sports and interact with other kids.

I appreciate that the goal is to bring them up to be adults so I talk to them about what I do and why and what the risks are and as they reach adult hood the decisions will become less mine and more theirs.......

As an aside, I'm a little sceptical of these numbers it does sound like a bit of hype. I'm not saying this never happens but I don't think it's reached the epidemic (or to use today's hype, pandemic) proportions they suggest.

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@AC 15:01

I don't think it is fair to compare yourself to your kids, as an El Reg reader, with Joe Public's kids in terms of relative technical competence.

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Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

Andrew I agree with you. My own daughters are more or less grown up and now in their twenties so I can look back with less emotion.

In fact I can look back to the fifties and my own childhood.

I realised with a shock that things were not so very different back then. Of course we did not have mobile phones or digital cameras. However, live encounters were a factor for some. I now realise that the girls who I heard about who got involved in 'precocious activities' were those whose relationship with their parents sounds, with hind sight to have lacked warmth, guidance and the right contact. I now understand they simply did not have the relationship that they needed and were using experimentation and in at least one case practice to find what they lacked in their normal life.

I think you have it down right and are not making those mistakes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

There are many reasons why a kid needs a smartphone once they get to secondary school ... personally I feel much happier knowing that my kids can contact me if they need help, especially as they both have to travel a couple of miles to school ... not to mention the other stuff they go to like music lessons etc.

There is an easy test to see if your kids are mature and responsible. (1) Did they have a girl/boyfriend at primary school? (2) Do they watch Eastenders or similar soap (Hollyoaks etc).

If the answer to either of these is yes then the likelihood is that your child is at risk of being abused.

If the answer to (2) is yes then you're also a poor parent.

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Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

"...personally I feel much happier knowing that my kids can contact me if they need help..."

So, a non-smart phone could be of use? They don't need a camera or internet to phone or text you.

You can even get ones that can only dial certain numbers programmed in by the parents.

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Re: Even if the parent's knew how to restict their childs phone...

"however my wife says it would be unfair for our daughter not to have a mobile as most of her class has one."

That is the weakest excuse and also the most heard. Attending a seminar is not the same as paying attention or even understanding the seminar.

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Language Corruption

It looks as though the "children" these people want to protect are mostly what would be called teenagers.

They need protecting, but I wonder if they were encouraged to do anything that they wouldn't have done in private anyway? I reckon this is something that would be better handled by sex education than by a panic over internet threats to our precious bodily fluids.

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Re: Language Corruption

Have an up-vote for common sense!

yes teenagers need protecting, but more by parental guidance than anything else.....

they should know enough to not go sending sexual pictures of themselves to others.....

If my kids can't bypass nearly any block I could put in place by the time they are 13, then i will not have done my job right in their education!

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Re: Language Corruption

"If my kids can't bypass nearly any block I could put in place by the time they are 13, then i will not have done my job right in their education!"

In the late 1990s my neighbour's just-teenage son explained that it only needed one boy at his school to work out how to by-pass any blocks. The information was then shared as a "how to" sheet - which required little understanding of the method by anyone else. That's the way the technology world works - one "tool maker" supports a lot of people who are only interested in the end result.

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Anonymous Coward

Bloody useless parents and CEOP trying to justify their existence

Why does a kid need an iphone or similar?

If you're a paranoid parent then get them a BASIC phone, if the kids complain its YOUR job to put YOUR foot down and look after YOUR children and tell them basic or nothing. No internet, no camera.

It's the same with internet access. They are YOUR brats, YOUR responsibility, don't want to have your evenings totally screwed up for 18 years, easy...DON'T HAVE KIDS. Put the computer in the living room or kitchen, somewhere you can keep an eye on whats happening.

The excuse that the "kids know more about it than me" is frankly pathetic. If you can't be arsed to learn about how to use a computer, dont give your kids free and unfettered access to it.

I'm genuinely tired of lazy parents who can't be arsed to look after their own kids, who fold at the first cry of "I want" and buy their spawn iphones, ipads, laptops powerful enough to run a space station and then complain when the kids go off and do something with them. Then they call for this ban and than ban and this restriction and that restriction.

It's NOT my job to care about your kids, it;s NOT my job to make sure that they are "safe" online and if you're kid is stupid enough to MMS or put a naked picture of themselves up on the internet it isn't even the fault of the paedo its YOUR fault for being a SHIT PARENT!

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.... nice

But it is generally thought that one of the responsibilities of society is to protect vulnerable people. How do you reconcile that thought with your somewhat incoherent rant?

Are you trying to say that the sheer effort of removing a content lock on an internet connection is beyond you or what?

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Re: .... nice

It's the laziness of the parents and the refusal to say no to their kids as well as the principle of the thing.

If parents are too lazy to to put on a lock, why should I go to the trouble of unlocking a lock? I don't have kids, don't want kids, yet I'm expected to change my life around for someone elses laziness.

If you go back to pre widespread internet use and look at porn on TV in the 90's , although it was on after the 9pm watershed, parents groups still complained because "thier kids had TV's in their rooms" & "busy lives meant that they couldn't supervise their kids in the evenings". Pure laziness.

If someone's someones kid is too stupid to realise that sending someone at school a naked picture of themselves means that it can be sent to anyone, it is the PARENT's fault for raising stupid children, not the fault of the technology or the providers.

As ot protecting vulnerable people, I though it was OK now to be "me,me,me" since we are now apparently allowed to revel in the fact that well in excess of 1000 people have killed themselves in 2012 alone because of Government outsourcing to ATOS..

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Re: Bloody useless parents and CEOP trying to justify their existence

A-fucking-men to that.

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Re: .... nice

Rant yes. Incoherent no.

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Re: .... nice

The rant is based on the right things. It is NOT societies place to protect you, it is YOUR place to protect you and yours. Take some damned responsibility and stop trying to nanny everyone over everything. If I want to drink 15 pints listen to loud music and browse porn then its not your place to tell me I will go blind (note, kiddy porn is not something that would want).

We are supposed to be free in the west, its people like you who are eating away at that and turning a culture of innovation and excitement into one of people sat in front of meaningless soap operas on TV scared of their own shadow in case it might give them cancer.

Get a damned grip of yours, and leave me to grip mine.

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Re: .... nice

When I were a lad you got porn from the top shelf in the newsagents, swapped it around a group of friends. Its not really any worse now.

People are just lapping up the stupidity from government and idiots who want to 'protect us' from everything - which means allowing us nothing.

As I said I really can't see some 14 year old school girl doing anything with a mobile phone for some fat 40 year old sad git. Sorry, it just doesn't ring true at all. And if it is true then the girl concerned needs far more help than some lock on their phone, they need appropriate love and affection from their family, their family might need guidance on how to do this. The rest of us don't need stupidity heaped on stupidity just in case.

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Re: .... nice

@Dave 15 - The sort of porn that is freely available on the Internet these days is a world away from the "hedgeporn" or the 70s and 80s. Gangbangs, serious s'n'm and multiple penetrations were not part of what I remember from jazz mags.

If you think that a 40 year old predator isn't able to intellectually run rings round a 14 year old, usually vulnerable child (ie: their family don't care or don't exist and they want love of an adult) you have a dim view of 40 year olds and a highly optimistic view of children.

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Re:Re: .... nice

Hats off to that man. Really, hats off. I considered chipping in - no longer a need.

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@AC Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:34 GMT and 15:12

Don’t you feel that you are being a bit hypocritical? On the one hand your final statement is that it is OK now to be ‘me, me, me’ but all you’re proceeding paragraphs berate extensively children for being exactly that, and parents for eventually giving in to that pressure.

Bear in mind (maybe that should be bare in mind) net enabled phones are not now a specialist technology product they are sold to pretty well anybody along with cornflakes, tins of beans, and washing powder.... the cheapest costing about the same as a large box of washing powder.

The parents who buy these phones may well not have the technology background to understand the possible pit falls. So a question for you, does the supermarket

a. Check that the purchaser has the background to understand the risk

b. Warn the parent

c. Take the money .....

Given how these products are so prevalent just maybe the marketing of them should be a bit more responsible, or indeed just maybe there should be something in the technology to help out the unwary?

Your statement -

If someone's someones kid is too stupid to realise that sending someone at school a naked picture of themselves means that it can be sent to anyone

Aside from containing some incoherence ... the word should be the possessive i.e. someone’s but you covered both possibilities I guess..... shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the likely cognitive abilities of a 12 to 15 year old child.

A child under the age of 15 is quite unlikely to understand the possible consequences of sending somebody a naked picture of themselves. General thinking is that until children reach about 15 they aren’t capable of reasoning as an adult.

It is with some relief I read that you don’t have children, and I guess both of us are hoping that is the way your life stays. Personally this end I have my fingers crossed that with luck you don’t even have a partner.... as you don’t strike me as the caring sympathetic type were to have an accident along those lines......

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Re: @AC Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:34 GMT and 15:12

" General thinking is that until children reach about 15 they aren’t capable of reasoning as an adult."

Yet the English law holds children older than 9 fully responsible for their activities that are considered sexual.

Most people don't fully reason like an adult until their early twenties. Research has shown that the relevant area of the brain matures at quite a late stage. They have also shown that the development is faster if children are encouraged to take on responsibilities. This encouragement appears to be something that has been largely removed from UK society in the last 30 or so years.

A study of WWII refugees showed that a child can learn to survive by itself after the age of 5. A nurse friend described how children of that age were acting as carers for an incapacitated mother and younger siblings. They were not totally effective - but surprisingly capable. Victorian street waifs showed similar abilities to cope with their living conditions. See "Fagin's Children: Criminal Children in Victorian England " by Jeannie Duckworth 2002.

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@Titus

"General thinking is that until children reach about 15 they aren’t capable of reasoning as an adult." That could be true, but see a later post about the infantilising effect of our current society. However, one thing is certainly true: if they can't reason as adults, then they are not adults, and should not have rights. That does not mean that adults do not have duties towards them - we most certainly do - but the entire concept of "Rights of the Child" is utter nonsense.* Once that is realised more widely, we can start to make society better (though it isn't going to happen - our society has all the hallmarks of terminal decadence).

* Even if you accept that rights themselves are not "nonsense on stilts".

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@Intractable Potsherd

Both the “Rights of the child” and the more general “Human Rights “ are not so much ‘nonsense on silts’ but are a mixture of ideals both good and bad.

My observations would be:

You get the ‘rights’ at the same time that you understand and accept your ‘responsibility’ to respect the rights of others. Also you lose the ‘rights’ if you demonstrate enough that you don’t accept the ‘responsibility’.

The ‘rights’ aren’t some sort of part of the natural law, god given, or whatever, they are defined, defended and paid for by the society in which you live. If society either, doesn’t agree that you have or can no longer afford, a ‘right’ you aren’t entitled to it any longer (any whimpering, and protests that you are entitled to a right puts you at odds with your responsibility - see first point).

But that said and also taking the point that society is increasingly infantilising our young people.... how difficult is it to knock a default content lock off a mobile phone? My phone has one, and I have removed it.

As I have previously remarked the OP in this case seems to demonstrate a remarkable lack of consideration for others in justifying that he has a trouble free internet access for his own gratification.

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@AC 16:29 Re: .... nice

That's a shame for you, we had access to some pretty good shit from the age of about 8 or so.

Certainly remember seeing SnM and GB's in magazines when I was, ohh, 13 or so as well - which is near enough 30 years ago now.

The only difference today is that it's easier to get hold of and, in no small part, has meant that many groups of *adults* have come to the conclusion that they aren't alone in their preponderences.

There are many comments that already say this, but it's quite simple - be a parent if you have kids, don't expect society to be one for you.

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@Titus

"The parents who buy these phones may well not have the technology background to understand the possible pit falls. So a question for you, does the supermarket

a. Check that the purchaser has the background to understand the risk

b. Warn the parent

c. Take the money ...."

How about d: Provide the technical support? ISP's do, so why not the Mobile providers? Perhaps they'd even start providing phones specifically for children?

There's a market right there - won't someone think of the children?

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Re: .... nice

ah .. you don't have kids and don't want kids ...

so actually you are irrelevant ... just waiting for extinction.

Looks like your parents didn't do a good job.

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Cotton Wool approach

This is an "information age" , to use a fairly old phrase.

I dont think the "cotton wool" approach is going to work anymore. Theres to many ways of accessing the net, and it is a part of life now anyway.

Parents should be educating the children on the dangers - some modern equivalent of "Dont get into cars with strangers offering sweets and puppies"

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Re: Cotton Wool approach

'some modern equivalent of "Dont get into cars with strangers offering sweets and puppies"'

Such "stranger danger" is a very small risk. The bigger risk is people who have the private access and "parental" authority to coerce a child. There have been several press reports recently about police officers abusing vulnerable women with whom they came into contact through investigations.

It is a difficult balance to avoid priming a child (or adults) to view all adults as suspicious characters.

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I'm suprised

CEOP is suggesting that parents should take responsibility. That's a nice change from "only government can protect people from themselves" approach under the old boss.

Talking about measures parents should take - the key thing is explaining to kids that anything put online cannot be controlled. Sometime, in 5 days or in 20 years, it will be found, spread, shared and discussed. If the teens then decide to ignore the warnings - let them deal with consequences when they come. And, frankly, the consequences are not going to be as catastrophic and the media portrays them to be.

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"CEOP noted that a sharp increase in smartphone usage among 12- to 15-year-olds - up 21 per cent in just a year - meant that young people were able to communicate and share images more easily than ever with strangers online."

I tell the kids, adults can not be trusted and not to follow any instructions from adults except parents/teachers/police. If they are unsure to call me. I limit what they can do and use software to control thier access.

Dirty bast*rds should be chemically castrated.

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"Dirty bast*rds should be chemically castrated"

Calm down, calm down! Aren't you being a bit hard with your kids???

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"I tell the kids, adults can not be trusted and not to follow any instructions from adults except parents/teachers/police. If they are unsure to call me. I limit what they can do and use software to control thier access."

Good ghods, I hope this doesn't mean that you have reproduced :( Werner von Braun was right.

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WTF?

If your kids cant be trusted, don't give them a smart phone!

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adults can't be trusted?

And kids can? Are you sure that the 12 year old boy your 12 year old is talking to is not a 45 year old?

I don't want anyone to impose any 'identity verification' and indeed giving your real personal details to people like facebook is just asking for the US government to take the info or some hacker to share it - so it is best not to give real information anyway.

Kids do need to be savvy about what they share - trivial detail can - and sometimes does - lead to them being 'tracked down' if people have such a desire. I taught my boy to share nothing real ever on the net - wrong school name, wrong town name, never his own picture, never his own name, never his own address, never his real hobbies or his age. Nothing real ever.

Sounds paranoid but it is better in a place where dishonesty is rampant to be dishonest yourself.

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The whole point

of such excersises is... simple... get kids used to being monitored, filtered, etc... so that the gov can then do what they want with nobody raising an eyebrow.

Better approach... teach your kids the values of privacy(their own(as far as I'm concerned they are entitled to it - not having someone watch over their shoulder all the time) and others), critical thinking and a lot of other stuff. You know... the stuff parents should do normally.

Hell I've been brought up fairly liberal. When I f... up I got a talking to and other punishments but it was also explained to me why. Watching pron when I was 10 no biggie... got a sex talk about it after that but that was that. No raised eyebrows etc...

Kids have brains, minds and are capable of making their own choices. Let them excersise that right and maybe just maybe we'll get a better world.

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Re: The whole point

Given the problem here is social networking and not web site access, the internet filters are utterly pointless.

How would that work otherwise? Somebody/something reading EVERY message to and from you and your loved ones looking for signs of "inappropriate language" perhaps?

Fsck that! We fought two World Wars to stop that sort of sh*t before, now they want to welcome it in :(

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Re: The whole point

You are probably correct. Most kids don't turn a hair at the current monitoring - and even when they do they are slapped down ... just look at that girl in America (the land of the free, so free they are tracked around a school for heavens sake).

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Re: The whole point

I think you need to go back to your history class ... we didn't fight two world wars to make pornography freely available.

They were fought to decide who got to control the sheep ...

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Re: The whole point

"Kids have brains, minds and are capable of making their own choices. Let them excersise that right and maybe just maybe we'll get a better world."

Research has shown that the "responsibility" area of the brain matures in a person's early twenties. However the development speeds up if they are given increasing responsibility as they grow up.

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Re: The whole point

@Research has shown that the "responsibility" area of the brain matures in a person's early twenties.

If only I could believe that. Sadly I don't. I hear way to many late twenties/early thirties drivers crashing their cars causing deaths and so on. The next class after that are all the politicians. Haven't seen one that would be responsible for his actions yet.

I guess for me it was mostly that my mom was a single parent so basically I had responsibility from early on. Do the dishes, take out the trash(which is something I rarely still do), clean stuff up(usually NOT my room) etc...

But yes I firmly believe that a child if having their choices properly presented and explained is capable of atleast contributing to a decission about themselves.

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"Watching pron when I was 10 no biggie... got a sex talk about it after that"

Were you dissappointed when you were told "it isn't really like that"?

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Isn't it :)

You need to find the right partner :) :)

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Re: Isn't it :)

Funny comment. Hope you're joking though because really good sex is nothing like the "sexual stunts" performed in the average porn flick... ;)

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Re: Isn't it :) Re; Anton C.

They aren't? Could have fooled me.

anonymous for her privacy.

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Re: Isn't it :) @Anton Channing

That's a very moralistic statement. Remember, each to their own unless it involves involuntary coercion.*

* No, that isn't a tautology - some people like to be coerced, so it isn't involuntary and therefore causes no actionable harm - despite what their Lordships decided in R v Brown.

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Heh not really. Since I was mostly aware of that part of the stuff anyway.

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Had a discussion with my 7yr old son the other day, apparently his friend had been grounded, when I asked him why he told me that the phone her parents had got her (for when she went to the park so they could call her in if needed) had been set to silent so her parents couldnt get hold of her so she was late in and got a bollocking.

I asked him if he thought that was fair, he said yes as she had been trusted and had broke that trust! (woo hoo I thought ive dragged this kid up proper lol)

I then told him that I would possibly do something similar ie get him a mobile for when he goes down the park, so I could contact him if I wanted him back in early or he could call me to ask me anything without having to run home first (can i go round friends house etc etc)

He was excited about being trusted with a mobile, however he had the wrong end of the stick as we were in Carphone Warehouse and he went straight to the smartphones, when I asked him what he was doing he told me he was looking for the phone he wanted. He wasnt too impressed when I showed him which phones I was talking about lol (didnt like the comment of well at least its got a colour screen, my first phone didnt!)

We have to trust kids to make their own mistakes and learn from them, but as parents we have to help our kids learn from their mistakes and keep an eye on them. Not in a massively big brother sense, but to help them from turning their mistakes into full blown cluster fucks! If you can trust your kids then they will trust you with everything.

I would rather my kid (or anybody really) come and tell me they have fucked up, than for me to find out from someone else!!

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