(Daily Telegraph) Sexual offenders are using the internet to fast-track abuse, according to new research. Previous studies into child sexual abuse had shown that offenders spent months befriending a young person, and in some cases their family, to prepare for the abuse. But latest research, from the European Online Grooming Project, shows that the grooming process by offenders using the internet is much faster. Rather than selecting one vulnerable child to abuse, some offenders also appear to target numerous young people until they find someone willing to meet them.
They are increasingly using social networking sites such as MSN and Facebook and are becoming technologically-advanced, often operating in communities sharing indecent images between countries, according to the research conducted by NatCen (National Centre for Social Research), Kingston University and Royal Holloway, University of London - which was presented at the UK Council for Child Internet Safety's (UKCCIS) first annual summit. Prof Julia Davidson, from Kingston University, said. "The research shows that the grooming period has been speeded up with chat room communication becoming almost immediately sexualised".
(CNET News.com) by Larry Magid. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that more than 3,500 sex offenders from his state have been purged from Facebook and MySpace. Both companies have long had policies against registered sex offenders using their services, but the implementation of New York's new Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act ("E-Stop") has made it easier for the sites to identify perpetrators from the Empire State. Facebook, according to Cuomo, was able to identify and disable the accounts of 2,782 registered sex offenders. MySpace deleted 1,796 accounts
(CNN) A history of childhood abuse and use of a provocative online identity increase the risk that girls will be victimized by someone they meet on the Internet, according to a study appearing in the June issue of Pediatrics. A study in Pediatrics sought to identify which risk factors are linked to Internet-initiated victimization of girls. While highlighting the dangers that exist for adolescent girls, the study's authors also offer a word to parents: You can lessen the risks to your children by monitoring their Internet use. The authors sought to identify risk factors connected to increased rates of Internet-initiated victimization of girls. They also wanted to find out whether abuse victims showed increased vulnerability to online victimization. They found that girls are more likely to experience online sexual advances or have offline encounters if they have previously been abused or have a provocative avatar, which is a digital image meant to represent the user online.Those two factors pose a greater risk to adolescents than perhaps more traditionally considered risks, such as Internet naivete and sexual innocence, the study says.
(Guardian) UK Police are responding to more than 100 alerts every month from child internet users who are in immediate danger of sexual abuse or violence at the hands of online predators. Specialist officers from Ceop, the Home Office-funded Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, are receiving on average four alerts every day from children who are about to meet in the real world a suspicious character they have met online or are suicidal because they have been so comprehensively groomed. The alerts are made through a "report abuse" button, which links directly to a team of specialist police officers trained in handling online child abuse. But the amount of suspicious activity online is likely to be far greater than the volume of complaints suggests because many popular social networking sites, including Facebook, have so far declined to feature the link.
(Heise) The third edition of the European Union's Safer Internet Programme will put a stronger focus on targeting cyberbullying and cybergrooming. Next to malicious and illegal content, the new program will also tackle problematic behaviour on the net, said Richard Swetenham of the Information Society and Media Directorate-General at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) in Strasbourg. According to Swetenham, his colleagues in the Commission are currently also working to provide consistent punishment for cyberbullying and cybergrooming across the EU. So far, the necessary legislation has only been adopted by two EU member states. EU commissioners think that the relevant articles on cyberbullying and cybergrooming should be raised to EU level by extending a Council framework decision on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
(CNET) Child predators will be easier to track online because of two new laws President Bush signed. The Protect Our Children Act sets requirements for Internet companies to report incidences of child pornography. It also authorizes more than $320 million for the Justice Department over the next five years for, among other things, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The president also signed the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act, which requires a sex offender to provide the National Sex Offender Registry with all of his Internet identifiers, such as e-mail addresses. While the KIDS Act does not permit sex offenders' Internet identifiers to be made public, it does require the attorney general to share the information with social-networking Web sites, so the sites can compare the identifying information with that of their respective users.
Paedophiles are publishing an increasing number of sadistic and violent images of younger children on the internet and are abandoning the slow grooming of victims, instead using threats to force them into commiting indecent acts, an intelligence review has found. The review, published by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), also found evidence that individual paedophiles are running multiple e-mail accounts, sending out hundreds of messages a day to children. See Press Release and Strategic Overview 2007-2008 (CEOP).
(BBC) It will become harder for adults to search for site users under 18. Sex offenders' e-mail addresses are to be passed to social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo to prevent them contacting children.Under government proposals, offenders who do not give police their address - or give a false one - would face up to five years in jail. Websites would be expected to monitor the e-mail address usage or block them accessing the sites. The Home Office said the new laws would apply to about 30,000 sex offenders. see also Internet safety plans 'pointless' (BBC)