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Keeping children safe in the virtual world

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 2860 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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I have chosen to do my essay on the challenges of keeping children safe in the virtual world. I will include the following in my essay -: the historical context of this topic, the possible challenges of keeping children safe in the virtual world such as grooming, cyber bullying and many more. Ways we can keep children safe in the virtual world; for example educating children, how to report online abuse and relating to theorist ideas on this theme. I also will talk about the current policies that are in place, why this issue is relevant and why these policies have been introduced. Then I will talk about how this can be put into practice and how this will make a difference on how people work.

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The first online child abuse images started in the mid 1990s. In 1998 the parliament passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA which addressed online privacy and safety risks for children under age 13. COPPA need Web site companies need to take steps to avoid collecting personal information from children. In August 2003 the Internet Advisor for the National Child Helpline, joined members on our Your Child’s Safety board to answer their questions about child safety online. In April 2006 the Government set up CEOP, the ChildHYPERLINK “http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&cr=countryUK|countryGB&rlz=1T4HPEB_en-GBGB319GB320&tbs=ctr:countryUK|countryGB,tl:1&q=child exploitation&sa=X&ei=IGsNTdrVJsyLhQeYy423Dg&ved=0CD4Q0AEwBA” Exploitation and OnlineHYPERLINK “http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&cr=countryUK|countryGB&rlz=1T4HPEB_en-GBGB319GB320&tbs=ctr:countryUK|countryGB,tl:1&q=online protection centre&sa=X&ei=IGsNTdrVJsyLhQeYy423Dg&ved=0CD8Q0AEwBA” Protection Centre, to tackle abuse and educate parents and children about personal safety online. In September 2007, the Prime Minister asked Dr Tanya Byron to lead an independent review into child safety online and in video games, this documentation is called ‘safer children in the digital world’ this was published in March 2008. In April 2008 the home office task force on child protection on the internet published a guidance note offering good practice recommendations for the providers of social networking sites. The aim of the guidance is to enhance the online safety of children and young people and was drawn up in consultation with websites, mobile phone operators, children’s charities and academics.Privacy Protection Act

I will define the word risk this is to do with a child put themselves in danger and wanting to take risk to explore the world. Encarta defines ‘risk as; chance of something going wrong: the danger that injury, damage, or loss will occur’. Smith, C., Stainton-Rogers, W., and Tucker, S (2007) pg 220 state that ‘Whereas other terms – such as ‘hazard’, ‘threat’, and ‘danger’ – always carry a negative meaning … risk taking is much more ambiguous: except that is, risk taking by the young’. From this quote you can see that risk is part of everyday life and children need to experience this to develop knowledge and understanding of the dangers of online activities. Poor areas of society are more at risk of getting abused because of the lack of knowledge online. Bryon, T (2007) pg 22 states that ‘Research highlights that children from more deprived backgrounds may be more at risk online because of a lack of confidence with new technology’. From this we can interpret that it is very important to teach children about this topic in schools, so that these disadvantaged children can get more understanding on the risks of web 2.0 such social networking sites. Children behaviour of risk taking online such as posting inappropriate images online, giving stranger’s personal information.

The internet is a world wide web where millions of people use this resource for education purposes, to stay in contact with friends via social networking sites and for fun such as play games online. ‘Some 99% of children aged 8-17 access the internet’ (Ofcom, 2008). You can assess the internet through mobile phones, computers and game consoles e.g. PSP, Nintendo wii, PS3 and the Xbox 360 all have WIFI on their systems which enable children to use the internet.

There are three aspects of risk online which are as follows; content this is to do with inappropriate images on the internet such as pornography. Contact this is to do with seeing a child in the real world, whom you met via chat rooms or social networking sites. Conduct this is to do with uploading images on the internet that are not suitable for the virtual world or it could be bullying other people on the internet.

Cyberbullying means online bullying. This type of bullying is hard to pick up than normal bullying because this type of bullying can be received anytime and anywhere via mobile phones or emails. Forms of Cyberbullying are grooming, abusing child online, briber the child and cybersex this is to do with the offender tries to persuade the child to talk about sex on the internet… This type of bullying can lead children to be emotionally abused. Emotional abuse is when children need unconditional love and care. They are sensitive and can be harmed by constant taunting, threats or made to feel guilty leading to loss of self confidence and self esteem. The physical indicators are poor speech and stammering or stuttering. The behavioural indicator are attention seeking, telling lies, withdrawal, constantly needing attention also little or no self esteem. ELABORATE

Ward and Siegert 2002 pathway model this is to do with sex offenders, offending on the internet to abuse children. In this model there are five pathways which are as follows intimacy deficits this is to do with the offender will abuse when lonely. Distorted sexual scripts this is to do with lack understanding from child about sexual abuse. Emotional dysregulation this is to do with not able to control feelings and behaviour. Multiple dysfunctional mechanisms ward & Sorbello 2003 pg 17 state that ‘reflect on history of sexual abuse or exposure to sexual material’. Anti-social cognitions this is to do with the offender having attitudes and beliefs of abusing. Ward & Sorbello, 2003 pg15 state that ‘one primary mechanism will exert a primary causal influence, the others only exerting a harmful effect due to the driving force of the primary deficit’ This is saying that only one will take effect first then the rest will integrate during the process of abusing.

Anonymity this is to do with children talking to people who they don’t know via the internet dangers of this could be sexual abuse – Adults such as paedophiles will use wrong age and pretend to be the same age as chose children they want to offend. CEOP (2007) suggest ‘within the virtual world when vulnerable children with a poor sense of self and low self esteem are ‘seduced’ and flattered by others who represent themselves falsely within the virtual world e.g. online predators pretending to be children’. This process can lead to grooming a child for sexual pleasure. Sexual abuse is when an adult or at times an older child uses a child for sexual gratification this means forcing a child ton carry out sexual acts including sexual touching, oral sex and intercourse. The effects of sexual abuse is are long lasting and highly damaging. It can cause problems in adult personal relationships children who are abused this ways can become abusers themselves. The physical indicators are bites, underwear showing signs of blood stains, swelling out of the vagina or anus etc. The behavioural indicators are depression, poor concentration; a child may reveal signs while using anatomically dolls, sexually explicit language and eating or sleeping problems.

This type of bullying can effect children’s confidence and lead to risks such as suicide threats and they may murder their selves for the repeated abuse online. Finkelhor’s four precondition model of paedophilia the four models are thinking about doing sex with a child they want to offend via online contact, making excuses this is linked to grooming the child, creating the opportunity by persuading the child to meet them in the real world and the final stage is doing sex with the child or sexually abuse the child when they meet them in reality.

Victims targeted are mostly girls because the sex offenders are usually male so they are more likely to abuse girls not boys. ‘There is a particular risk of ‘grooming’ practices through popular online services such as instant messaging and social networking sites with strangers using them to make contact with under-age girls, sometimes by adopting a fake persona’ (CEOP, 2007). But also CEOP are creating a leaflet targeting teenager boys to inform them that they may be in danger of this too not only girls.

Children try to hide what they are doing online from their parents, which concern the parent on what their child are doing and viewing online. Older children do two things at the same time such as doing homework and on social networking site. But when parents check on what their child are doing, they will pretend to be doing their homework. Bryon, T (2008) pg 46 states that ‘Multi-tasking is common, with young people using chat functions whilst doing their homework and able to quickly shield this from parental view’. The reasons behind this could be that the child wants their own personal space or independence without parents telling the risks. Some children may think that the parents will not understand the new technology.

The other side of the spectrum can be the benefits of the virtual world for children they are having the opportunities for learning, for play, for Communication, for skill development, for creativity and for having fun. ‘Benefits of the medium include: facilitating learning; communication; and civic participation’ (Bentivegna, 2002). This is important for the child because they will be able to communicate to people in the virtual world and they can do their homework on the internet for research and revision.

You can keep children safe in the virtual world by teaching the children of the dangers of the virtual world and how to stay safe this can be done through teachers and parents. But parents will need to gain knowledge on this topic. Research shows that parents don’t understand the risks very well. ADD QUOTES AND STATISTICS

Understanding what online abuse is, if you think this may be bullying you should report this via CEOP is a company that was set up by the government in 2006 or IWF. Which are organisations that can help children whom are getting bullied in the virtual world and inappropriate content online and stop chose offenders from re offending other children who are on the social networking sites. .

Providing support for the sex offender; organising schemes to try stop these people from abusing children online. An example of this could be circles of support accountability. This was created to help the offender whom experienced loneliness or who has low self esteem, so this may make them abuse children online for fun.

Use of parental controls: to control the content that your child can use such as blocking pornography pictures. Keep computers in a central location such as living room, where you can observe what your child is doing online. Having computer in the child’s room will create a greater risk for children being abused online. The offender will know that no one is around the child and he or she is alone, through the use of webcam.

Providing rules for children on how to stay safe online such as do not give out personal information online to a person you don’t know, this can be linked to the stranger danger scenario because if you saw a stranger you would not talk to them in reality.

Always ask your children what they have been doing on the internet, this way they can tell you if there were any unwanted content on the computer while they were surfing the internet such as abuse. ADD REFERENCES

This is a relevant issue because children and young people are very vulnerable in the virtual world. So it is our duty to protect children from harm this can be linked to the children’s act. Children Act 1989 is an act of parliament, which puts the benefit of children first, to care for children from harm and you, must work with parents at any time possible this act states that requirements of children are the most important…

Sexual Offences Act (2003) sets out a new legal framework to protect children from sexual abuse this covers internet pornography, grooming & exploitation. This Act will put restrictions on convicted sex offenders. This policy has been introduced to give more support to police on how to convict offenders and also it promotes internet safety. This is a good policy because it will keep children safe online because the offenders have restriction on contact with children, so they can’t abuse children on the internet.

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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 this is a worldwide agreement that relates to all children and young people under the age of 18 years. The children should be protected from harmful influences such as abuse. This has been introduced because they wanted to keep vulnerable children safe from harm and protect the child from abuse which can have a negative impact such as low self confidence or self esteem. ELABORATE

Another policy is the communication act 2003 section 127 is to do with misusing public computer to send inappropriate messages. The act states that ‘Anyone who sends a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or is of an indecent, obscene or menacing character (other than in the course of providing a programme service) by means of a public electronic communications network, or who causes such a message or matter to be sent, is guilty of an offence’. This means that if an offender sends a child messages via the internet that are not appropriate for their age. If the offender is found guilty he/she can be given a prison sentence for no more than six months.

Debate around protecting children (the protective or preventive state)

On my brothers school website they have a side panel that says ‘e safety’; which gives advice on staying safe online. This can be used by both parents and children whom use the website to see how to keep their child safe online. The government are advising schools to include internet bullying on their bullying policies. REFERENCES

In conclusion it is very important to protect children from the risks of the virtual world because it is easier to abuse a child online than in reality. Another factor is that it is harder to pick out a child who is being abused online without the child reporting this incident to organisation such as CEOP, IWF and many more that can help stop the offender.

Critically evaluate the practice implications (in as far as this is possible) i.e. what difference will it make to the way you work?

This is a theoretical essay that needs to focus on wide relevant reading and research whatever the focus. You can refer to relevant practical applications e.g. in school but back this up with reading as well. If you are referring to a personal experience you may frame it e.g. 

A recent placement experience in a local primary school setting demonstrated the importance of including this subject at a number of levels to ensure the protection of children as recommended by Bloggs ( 2208:9) who states   ‘ written policies that have been negotiated with all interested stakeholders are fundamental to ensuring that these issues are given appropriate prominence in any education environment’. This was expressed in a number of ways and included…

Bibliography – USE JOURNALS

Byron, T (2007) safer children in a digital world: the report of the Bryon review. Department for children, schools and department for culture, media and sport, London

Grabber, C and et al (2009) E-safety and web 2.0 for children aged 11-16.

Goodman, A & Kennison, P (2008) children as victims. Exeter: Learning matters

Smith, C., Stainton-Rogers, W., and Tucker, S (2007: 220) ‘Risk’ in Robb, M (ed) Youth in Context: Frameworks, Settings and encounters. London: Sage Publications and the Open University Press.

T. Ward, D. R. Laws, & S. M. Hudson Eds. (2003) Sexual deviance: Issues and controversies. London: Sage.

Websites used

www.CEOP.police.uk assessed on 10th December 2010 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/notes/division/5/2/1/96 assessed on 12th December 2010


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