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September 5, 2023

Sex offenders are using virtual reality to ‘groom and abuse children’

  • According to new research from the NSPCC, offenders are using virtual reality (VR) to groom and sexually abuse children, as well as share illegal images of abuse. 
  • The report warned that offenders are being desensitised to their own behaviour because of the anonymity such online spaces provide through their use of customisable, digital avatars to represent each person.  
  • Virtual reality platforms are based on a person wearing a headset, which immerses them into a virtual world where they can see and interact with other users as well as engage with content.  
  • The NSPCC has called on tech firms to do more to make sure that VR platforms are safe by design by introducing more effective child safety features and reporting systems. 
  • For more, please visit the MSN News website.  

Concerning TikTok trends users and parents are being warned about

  • Sarah McConomy from SellCell has spoken up about the “pressure to fit in and be popular on social media” and how it can “cloud young people’s judgement” and making them ignore the possible consequences of harmful trends on social media”. 
  • Chroming is a common trend which involves people challenging each other to inhale toxic fumes from sources such as aerosol cans, spray deodorants etc.  
  • SellCell says the trend has the potential to cause heart attacks, seizures, suffocation, and other harmful health implications.  
  • Other harmful trends mentioned are the Benadryl challenge which involves taking large doses of over-the-counter allergy medicine and the Borg challenge (also known as the Blackout Rage Challenge) where those taking part consume a large amount of water mixed with alcohol. This is also combined with caffeinated flavour enhancers and electrolyte powders. 
  • Check out our guide: NI: ‘Responding to online challenges, trends and hoaxes’ OR ZM: ‘Responding to online challenges, trends and hoaxes’. 
  • For more, please visit the Berkshire Live website.  

1 in 8 Kids forced to make remote sexual abuse content

  • A new analysis by the eSafety Commissioner, has revealed that 1 in 8 complaints of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) involved the perpetrator instructing the child to perform explicit acts via a webcam or smart phone. 
  • eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said that perpetrators were ‘sliding into DMs’ on online games and social media to groom children into performing these acts. 
  • The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reported they have seen an increase in self-generated CSAM. 
  • The IWF also reported that predators use fear, flattery and gifts to control, coerce and manipulate children. 
  • Concerning figures from the analysis by the eSafety Commissioner, showed that 25% of material was created in the family home, with 16% being produced in the bedroom, 5% in the living room, and 4% in the bathroom. 
  • However, Ms Grant stated this figure was likely to be much higher. 
  • Signs for parents to watch out for, include: your child avoiding their phone or other devices, becoming secretive about what they’re doing online, becoming quieter or more withdrawn, and having unexplained access to money or expensive purchases. 
  • Any illegal content can be reported anonymously, here. 
  • For more, please visit the Mirage News website. 

The following stories may be regionalised:

Teen describes why she left ‘hellhole’ school to learn online – as country could face education shake-up

  • Florrie hated school so much that it made her ill and she became one of the 1.7 million children persistently absent from school in England. 
  • Florrie’s mum, Phillipa, a former deputy headteacher, made the decision to remove Florrie from school completely. 
  • She is now part of a £6,000-a-year online school and her mum said she is set to achieve 9 GCSE’s next year. 
  • Phillipa reported that she is “mentally well, happy, enthusiastic about school and learning invaluable life skills”. 
  • The government is now asking online providers to apply for accreditation; therefore, they will be inspected by Ofsted. 
  • This move could be seen as legitimising this type of education. 
  • The Department for Education (DfE) says there are an estimated 25 online education providers in England and so far, 13 have applied for accreditation. 
  • Ministers says there is no system currently available that would allow pupil funding to be transferred to an online provider. 
  • Despite this, a DfE spokesperson reported: “our Online Education Accreditation Scheme will give greater confidence to parents, carers and pupils accessing education through this route.” 
  • For more, please visit the Sky News website. 

Schools concrete crisis is risk to pupils’ mental health, headteacher warns

  • A headteacher by an affected school, has 830 students who must learn semi-remotely for at least one term, due to the concrete crisis. 
  • He reported that it is the “worst time”, expressing concerns for Year Seven’s: “that’s a crucial time. It’s a transition that can really affect their mental health going forward”. 
  • UK government data from February and March 2021, showed that rates of probable mental disorders in children and young people increased between 2017 and 2021. 
  • Engineers have continued inspections of the material in schools and reported the structure “is now life-expired” and “liable to collapse with little or no notice”. 
  • Some schools are facing closures due to asbestos issues in accessing the Raac, causing further delays in school re-openings.  
  • Treasury sources from the government have reported that spending would have to come out of the existing schools’ capital budget. 
  • Steve Chalke runs the Oasis foundation, reported that children from poorer families would suffer most from the disruption. 
  • For more, please visit The Guardian website.