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The NSPCC have issued warning for households to be extra vigilant with regard to online child abuse during the current Coronavirus pandemic we have found ourselves in.
This comes after Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union, said it had seen “increased online activity by those seeking child abuse material.
"Although our children appear safe inside, they are not completely shut off from the outside threat of strangers, due to the abundance of online platforms they interact on daily.”
The warning describes the current situation as a ‘perfect storm’ for abusers to take advantage given the increase in online activity and the reduced number of moderators tech firms normally have working for them. Various third party moderators have advised they will be increasing their use of artificial intelligence to moderate content and that staff are working from home.
However, Andy Burrows, Head of Child Safety Online Policy at the NSPCC has called on them to “set out how they are prioritising protecting children by identifying and disrupting offenders with fewer moderation resources available.”
The Internet Watch Foundation, a UK charity who remove child sex abuse content from online say they are also preparing for a rise in abuse and an expectation that these criminals will be more active. The NSPCC have pleaded with tech companies to share intelligence about evolving risks and to share with governments the referrals made to NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) in order to identify those children most at risk of abuse.
The IWF have stated they are open as usual and have urged people to call their hotline if they have any content to report. It is more important now than ever that a close eye is kept on our children’s online activity to keep them safe from all consequential threats caused by this pandemic.
Our Abuse team, led by Natalie Marrison, have extensive experience supporting survivors who have been affected by online grooming. For a completely confidential discussion please contact the Ramsdens Abuse team on 0113 8871 834.