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Rates of crime against children could be on the rise due to the global impact of Convid-19. Several global agencies are anticipating that children are at increasing risk of falling prey to crimes perpetrated through online and social platforms, a release of the Strategic Communications, International Justice Mission, Kolkata said.
Parents are advised to be vigilant and track the internet usage of children. While the government machinery is focused on thwarting the spread of the coronavirus, criminals and predators anywhere in the world can exploit the closure of schools and increased usage of internet by children, it said.
The release said criminals can take advantage by engaging children who are now expected to be vulnerable due to isolation and less supervision.
“Recent statistics indicate that children are spending time online more than ever. This has developed a lot of room for online child exploitation. We have observed that there is has been an increase on online grooming cases globally.” The release quoted Guillermo Galarza, Director of Law Enforcement Training & Technology, International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC).
A report released by Europol titled “Pandemic Profiteering”, stated that there is an increase of online activity by those who are seeking child abuse material. The report found a correlation between this increased activity being consistent with online postings in forums by offenders.
“While there haven’t been any cases reported yet in India, it is highly possible that seasoned human trafficking criminals will exploit the current situation. Sex-traffickers were found to use social media applications to engage customers in 90% of cases that IJM supported the Police to rescue children in the last two years.” said Mr. Saji Philip, Director of Operations, International Justice Mission, Kolkata.
Cyber-trafficking, Grooming, Sextortion, Sexting, Live Streaming of child sexual abuse are some of the new norms of crime against children and vulnerable communities.
As per a report by International Labour Organisation, Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, the following crimes are defined as :
What is grooming: “The process of establishing/building a relationship with a child either in person or through the use of the Internet or other digital technologies to facilitate either online or offline sexual contact with that person. A report presented to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha in January 2020 by a ADHOC committee, stated that grooming needs to be explicitly recognised as a crime in India.
What is sexting: Sexting is a form of sexual bullying, where a child is pressured to send a picture to a boyfriend/girlfriend/peer, who then distributes it to a peer network without their consent. Another form of Sexting, sharing of self-generated images by consenting adults.
What is Live online child sexual abuse: It is a practice on the rise, related both to the sexual exploitation of children through prostitution and sexual performances and to the production of child sexual abuse material.
What can Parents do:
Take advantage of Parental controls
• Make social media accounts private
• Delete, Report and block if your child receives any unwanted contact from strangers
• Talk regularly with your child about their internet and social media interests and build a trusting relationship about the usage of technology.
• Parents can look to do joint activities with children and engage them in a meaningful way.