Cobbled together from BBC and other media news items
Hundreds of British
children are being blackmailed into performing sex acts online, the Child
Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has warned.
Abusers posing online as
children talk victims into sexual acts or sharing of images, then threaten
to send pictures to the child's family and friends.
said in 12 cases over two years, 424 children had been blackmailed in this
way - 184 of them in the UK. Deputy chief executive Andy
Baker said the abuse "escalates really quickly". He told BBC Radio 4's Today
programme that it could take as little as four minutes "to go from, 'Hi, do
you want to get naked?', to self-harming".
Seven victims have killed
themselves, including a 17-year-old in the UK. Another seven seriously
self-harmed, of whom six were from the UK.
from Swindon, began experiencing
cyber-bullying last year over the internet and via text messaging.
The bullying - which started at school -
continued to follow Sophie through to her college in Swindon. The regular
abuse lowered Sophie's self-esteem so much that she self-harmed.
Thanks to support from her family and the
school and college, action is now being taken against the bullies. However,
Sophie wants to continue to raise awareness of this 'faceless' type of
In order to raise awareness of the issue,
Sophie is making an animated film to be screened across Swindon in order to
make people aware of cyberbullying
You can find out more about what
young people like Sophie are doing at the beat bullying website
very useful internet resource is
Mr Baker said: "We're
talking about a very small dark percentage of [the internet] and this is
what we need to police".
Daniel Perry, from
Dunfermline, Fife, took his own life in the summer after blackmailers
demanded thousands of pounds having tricked him into thinking he was
chatting with a US girl.
He was told that his video
conversations would be spread among friends and family unless he paid cash.
Other victims have been told their activities would be shared unless they
performed more extreme acts.
Of all the recent developments involving the internet
this is one of the most disturbing.
From Canada comes the
story of a member of the Nova Scotia legislature who
says she was cyberbullied by a group of people over the
past two weeks after someone posted a topless image of
her online.Lenore Zann said image was taken from an
episode in the U.S. cable TV series The L Word, in which
she played a small part in a prison shower scene in
When the image was
tweeted to her on Nov. 29, she asked the sender to
remove the image, which she said included a message that
said, "What happened to the old Lenore?" But the
sender refused and the online conversation soon included
others who retweeted the image and hurled insults at
her, Zann said.
"I never signed on
for having that image used for another purpose," she
said in an interview. "I signed a contract... for
my image only to be used in The L Word show. It's not
just the image of the picture that was disturbing. It
was the way that these people... suddenly targeted me.
It increased in velocity and intent. It was constant and
it was harassing."
The perpetrators are usually calculating, computer-savvy
men aged between 20 and 44; some act alone, others as part of an organised
network. Their motives are more than just sexual - they want control, and in
some cases money.
The victims are girls and boys, unwittingly drawn into
the paedophiles' net by the possibility of friendship or consensual sexual
contact. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable as it's natural
for them to explore their emerging sexuality or engage in risky behaviour -
but few can imagine the dangers that their innocent internet chat may lead
As well as catching the offenders, investigators say
children and parents must be made aware of the risks. In the 12 cases highlighted by CEOP,
the abusers came from four continents and in five cases the criminals were
based in the UK. Children as young as eight
had been forced to perform "slave-like acts", said Mr Baker. As well as the
performance of sex acts, the abuse sometimes involved being forced to
self-harm and there had been a few attempts to extort money.
Experts highlighted the
accessibility of the English language and foreign abusers' perceptions about
the liberal nature of UK society as reasons for the targeting of British
children. Mr Baker said thousands of
British children could have been approached in attempts to instigate abuse. While only a handful of
children will respond, thousands are exposed to the risk, he said.
operations manager Stephanie McCourt said: "First of all it's the English
language. They are able to threaten the children if they can communicate to
them. English is a really popular universal language. "Second of all, the
offenders have actually said that because they perceive the UK as a very
free and open and liberal society, they think that they will have more
success in targeting UK children."
The biggest case, known as
Operation K, involved 322 children around the world being blackmailed,
including 96 in the UK. The victims were mainly
boys aged 11 to 15, who were targeted by a gang from a non-European country.
The suspects are due to stand trial in the coming weeks.
The gang used more than 40
fake online profiles and more than 40 different email addresses to carry out
their abuse. The network of abuse was
exposed after a social networking site noticed suspicious activity and a
British child told their parents. Set up in 2006 in
affiliation with the Serious Organised Crime Agency,
CEOP is a police agency dedicated to protecting children from sexual
said warning signs that a child was being subjected to online abuse could
include them becoming aggressive and withdrawn, as well as self-harming.
But in Daniel Perry's case
it appears there were no warning signs.
His mother told reporters
after his death: "He was a happy laddie, not depressed and the last type of
person you would think would take their life... We're a very close family
and I just wished he had come to me and said something."
The apprentice mechanic had
been having online conversations with someone he believed to be a girl
around his own age.
Just before his death, he
was warned by the blackmailers that he would be better off dead if he did
not transfer the cash. Less than an hour after replying to the message, he
fell from the Forth Road Bridge.
Take a look at CEOP's
useful self-help site:
http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ or find them on Facebook
Finally, we were delighted
in July 2018 to learn that our archived material from so many years ago is
still being reached and read and found to be useful, when a request was
received from Katherine Clarke as follows:
Could you make a small update for me?
Iím working on a national safety project to help put a stop
to cyber bullying.
Dr. Keenan has created this guide on How to Deal with
Cyberbullying & Substance Abuse:
Would you mind sharing it perhaps on your page.
Doctors Keenan and Cohen felt there wasn't a great guide out
there and I'm tasked with promoting it so ....
Patient Advocacy Group