This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 24 May, 2018
Advertisement

Is your child safe online? New laws on the way to combat grooming

An RTÉ Investigations Unit programme showed the dangers posed to young teens online.

AN REPORT INTO the safety of Irish teenagers online showed that some are at risk of having their photos taken and used on hardcore pornography sites.

The RTÉ Investigations Unit report, which was broadcast on Prime Time last night, showed how a fake teenager (created using CGI) with a public social media account was sent huge amounts of sexual messages from strangers.

The Minister for Justice has said that there are new laws on the way to help combat the problem of grooming of teenagers in Ireland.

rte prime time investiations Source: RTE

Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality, has advised of the need for greater awareness of the risks posed to children and young people of sharing sensitive personal information online.

A new Bill was published last week by Minister Fitzgerald, which will, for the first time, make it a criminal offence to engage in online communications for the purpose of grooming a child or young person for sexual exploitation.

The General Scheme to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014 also contains measures to strengthen existing criminal law in combating child exploitation and ensuring the law addresses the use of modern technology when it comes to sexual exploitation.

Minister Fitzgerald said: “The new offences also reflect the reality that predatory sexual activity to target children now takes place online, for example, via social media.”

Here’s how the bill will work

The Scheme of the Bill creates two offences.

The first criminalises adults who contact children either online or through mobile communications such as text messages, for the purpose of sexually exploiting the child.

This offence is targeted at the initial stages of grooming and does not require physical contact or meeting between the adult and child in question. The offence does not necessarily require that the communication contain a sexual advance or include sexual material as these are not generally features of sophisticated grooming but it does require that the communication is to facilitate the sexual exploitation of the child. The penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment reflects the serious nature and intent behind the communication.

There is also an offence of sending sexually explicit material to a child.

This offence protects children from unwarranted and unwanted advances. There is also recognition that the intention behind this type of activity may be to expose the child to such material with a view to developing the child’s familiarity with such material or activity.

RTÉ Investigations Unit

On the show last night, the report revealed that thousands of photos of Irish teenage girls end up on hardcore pornography sites without their knowledge.

It says that the photos are being taken from social media websites and then uploaded to adult sites.

amy-rte-investigations-unit-373x500 'Amy', created by RTÉ for their programme last night. Source: RTE

The CGI-generated image of a teen girl called ‘Amy’ was also used to show how strangers contact young teens on social media sites.

The researchers said that in less than 30 days, the fictitious girl had gathered over 1,000 ‘friends’ on the site. She then began receiving messages from adult men who “engaged her in extreme and sexually explicit conversations”.

Here’s some of the reaction to the show online:

Read: Pics of Irish teen girls are ending up on hardcore pornography sites>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

Read next:

COMMENTS (39)