The NSPCC has today warned of the risks posed to children using live-streaming or video-chat and calls for government action to protect children from online abuse.
An NSPCC survey of 3,310 children in the South West of England aged seven to 16 revealed a quarter have live-streamed, and 13% have video-chatted with someone they’ve never met in person.
The charity’s Wild West Web campaign is calling for the creation of an independent regulator that will hold social networks to account and force them to introduce measures to make live-streaming and video-chatting safer.
Of the children who had video-chatted with someone they hadn’t met, 13% had been asked to get undressed, and 7% who had live-streamed were asked to remove clothes.
Take the example of Skype used to target Ben.
When Ben was 14, a man in his twenties pretended to be a teenage girl and groomed him on Facebook. Over two years that man and five more abusers exploited Ben by using blackmail and threats to coerce him into sending explicit pictures and performing sex acts on Skype.
Carl, Ben’s father, said: “Ben tried to get out of the situation so many times but he couldn’t get out. He was trapped and was too frightened to tell anyone. It’s been devastating.
“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 NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the government to create an independent regulator for social networks. To make live streaming safer:
- Sites must have real-time nudity detection for live streaming and video chat on children’s accounts.
- Children must be given Safe Accounts with extra protections built in.
- Live video must be limited to contacts approved by the child.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “The popularity of live-streaming 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.
“The lure of a big audience, or thinking that they are chatting to someone they can trust, piles on that pressure. What’s really disturbing is that groomers can then screenshot or record live-streamed 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 are in place to protect children from abuse over live-streaming and video chat.”
Livestreaming and Video-Chatting, the NSPCC’s second snapshot of findings from the largest ever UK survey of children’s experiences online, was published today and highlights the dangers children are exposed to.
Nationally, 29% of secondary school children had broadcast themselves online, suggesting that the popularity of live-streaming may have surged among this age group since Ofcom’s estimate1 last year that one in ten 12-15 year-olds had live-streamed. Live-streaming has become more accessible in recent years after mainstream sites like Facebook and Instagram built live-streaming functions into their platforms.
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid demanded in a speech at the NSPCC last month that social networks tackle the live-streaming of child abuse.
Please support NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign by signing their petition now: http://bit.ly/2BTX0Bm