Technology like WhatsApp and webcams are being frequently used by predators in order to violate children. They are no longer simply being used as a way to remain in contact with family and friends in a cost friendly manner, but rather as a way for sexual predators to groom, befriend and lure young children.
As the youth are new to social networking, they use it as a form of freedom. It enables them to socialize with anyone in the cyber world, and become connected to those they have never even met.
Statistics show that children from the ages of nine to 13, are using sites like Facebook without their parents being aware. Similarly, children have started using Whatsapp and webcams without their parents knowledge, making it possible for them to become victims to online sexual predators.
Children are easy to deceive and manipulate, and the uses of technology have made it easier for the abuse of children to occur. They can be easily contacted, and can now be persuaded to send pictures of themselves or live videos with minimum effort. The uses of social media, videos, and smart phones have not only made it very easy for criminals to meet children, but also to create sexual videos. They use webcams and smart phones to record videos of their sexual abuse of children, and then they share it with others on the Internet. These videos frequently include audio recordings along with the video images.
Strangers are able build relationships by pretending to be a friend or even a potential lover, which is resulting in many tragic stories about children who have been raped, kidnapped or sexually harassed. With the new age of technology, many parents remain blissfully unaware what their children have access to.
Last year, the Department of Justice revised its strategy to keep up with this evolving threat. Among the strategies, was an endeavor to advance the technological capabilities of law enforcement, in order to keep up with the child predators, and also to improve the training of investigators for monitoring.
Many sexual offenders sneak past law enforcement with the freedoms produced by technology, like WhatsApp and webcams, which are being used in order to violate children. After building a relationship, they then persuade children to meet somewhere in person.
Parents are advised to become involved in the creation of their child’s online profile, to try and prevent them from making life-threatening decisions unknowingly, when talking to strangers. Reports have also urged parents to restrict their child’s freedom of social networking, until they are mature enough to judge potential threats.
Although the advancements in technology have many positives, they also come with many dangers, especially for young children. As technology like Whatsapp and webcams are being frequently used in order to violate children, officials insist that adults remain conscious about who their children are talking to on the internet. Whatsapp itself has pushed past 400 million monthly users, and many children could be targeted by one of them.
By Melissa McDonald