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NSPCC calls on government to tackle online grooming to make internet safer for children

Written by Samantha Lade, Donr

Published on Monday, 22nd October 2018

NSPCC calls on government to tackle online grooming to make internet safer for children

The NSPCC have launched a new campaign – aptly named the 'Wild West Web' – to call on the government to regulate social networks and make the internet safer for children.

This comes as the results of a survey of nearly 40,000 children between the ages of seven and 16 highlighted the risks associated with livestreaming and video-chat.

Findings show that almost a quarter of this age group have livestreamed and almost 1 in 8 have video-chatted with someone they've never met in person.

Over 1 in 10 children who have video-chatted have been asked to get undressed. Of those who had livestreamed, over one in 20 were asked to remove clothes.

The campaign also features real-life stories from those who have experienced online grooming – such as Ben*, who at the age of 14 was groomed for over 2 years on Facebook by a man in his twenties posing as a teenage girl.

Ben's father Carl*, said: 'Ben tried to get out of the situation so many times but he couldn't. He was trapped and too frightened to tell anyone.

'The government must do whatever it can to protect children from being targeted by abusers online. I don't want any other families to have to go through what we've gone through.'

The #WildWestWeb campaign calls on both the Home Secretary and the Digital Secretary to introduce tough regulation for social networks, including: safe accounts for children, an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks, and detailed reporting on these measures.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: 'The popularity of livestreaming has led to a dangerous cocktail of risks for children. Its immediacy means children are being pressured into going along with situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

'What's really disturbing is that groomers can then screenshot or record livestreamed abuse, and use it to blackmail the child or share it with others.

'We urge the public to sign our petition calling on Government to introduce tough regulation of social networks to make sure measures as in place to protect children from abuse over livestreaming and video chat.'