Your regular in-app roundup of current digital safeguarding news.
Daily Safeguarding Update
Teenage girls increasingly at risk of online grooming and coercion, IWF report reveals
The annual report from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has revealed that teenage girls aged 11–13 are more at risk of grooming and coercion at the hands of online predators now than ever before.
The IWF’s Annual Report 2020 highlights the growing risk of children falling victim to internet predators, with young girls described as the most vulnerable group.
The criminals are known to groom, bully and coerce children into filming their own sexual abuse via internet-enabled devices, often from within the child’s own bedroom in the family home. The images and videos can then be shared widely online.
Experts from the Foundation, who are committed to finding and removing child sexual abuse material from the internet, have now worryingly and for the first time warned that this sort of abuse comprises almost half of the cases they are encountering online.
Canadian child protection agency warns of new tactic for sexual extortion
Global news reports that a rise in an emerging sexual extortion and exploitation tactic which sees offenders superimposing a youth’s face in a video or photo (using Deepfake technology) to make it look like they’re nude or engaging in a sexual act.
The protection agency, Cypertip.ca, says offenders are blackmailing young people — demanding they send money or gift cards or they’ll send the video or photo to the youth’s friends and family.
Cypertip is the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, based in Canada.
Cypertip.ca says offenders will sometimes also follow the young person’s friends and family on Facebook or Instagram “as a way to demonstrate they can follow through on threats to share the video or photos if the victim does not comply.”
To learn more about Deepfake technology, select here.
Xbox makes online multiplayer free for range of games
Xbox has detailed its plans to make online multiplayer in free-to-play games available to Xbox users who don’t have an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
A blog post on the Xbox website explains that, starting today, players will be able to access online multiplayer in over 50 free-to-play games with no Xbox Live Gold membership required. You can check out the full library of free-to-play games here. At present the list includes games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, Rocket League, Roblox and Destiny 2. Brawlhalla, Warzone, It Takes Two and World of Tanks also make the cut. Xbox says that the list of free-to-play games will be updated “as more free-to-play games launch.”
Rise in child exploitation and safeguarding re-referrals highlighted in area of Teesside
Council chiefs have highlighted a rise in children being exploited in Redcar and Cleveland and a “worrying” increase in safeguarding re-referrals.
Between December last year and February this year there were 22 children deemed to be in this category,16 of which were said to have been criminally exploited and six sexually.
A report to members of Redcar and Cleveland Council’s children and families scrutiny and improvement committee said that 12 months prior – in December 2019 – there were 17 children identified as being exploited.
Almost 300 staff at the council have now received training to spot signs of criminal exploitation, along with child trafficking, and it was considered that an element in the rise was the ability to better identify children who were being exploited for criminal or sexual purposes.