I'm writing this post to no one in particular but to get some thoughts I've had on paper and as a bit of cheap therapy!
My job is as a Child Abuse Investigator and my current investigation is into a man that we as the police had no knowledge of. That frightened me, immensely.
We became aware of him after a brave family member came forward and said that they had been abused by this man, 2 other young people were spoken to both of whom disclosed abuse. We arrested the suspect and conducted a search at his home address, this led to us seizing computer equipment and other items which were then examined by the forensic dept.
We found over a million indecent images of children : (
Those images have to reviewed an graded by us on the level of severity.
I cannot tell you how harrowing it is to look at that stuff, I'm not asking for sympathy, it's my job and I want to do the best I possibly can. I hope by sharing a couple of my observations you can become more aware of the downside to the Internet.
Whilst viewing the images it became clear at some of these pictures were innocent family snaps taken and up loaded onto the Internet probably to be shared with other family members. Please be careful what you upload and what you share, if you're on Facebook review your privacy settings to friends only and encourage family to ask your permission before sharing. I'm not trying to scaremonger just encourage you to think about who might be looking at your child in swimming trunks.
Another thing I noticed were young people masturbating to camera or posing naked. Again not scaremongering and in this modern age maybe it's a right of passage! I know I was looking at a certain type of persons computer and this isn't happening in every household with a teenager however a lot of similar things we deal with are kids doing it for fun not realising when it's out there it can be accessed and viewed by all sorts of people and simpy deleting it doesn't make it go away completely.
Facebook again! So many children friend people they don't actually know and get drawn into things they don't understand and don't know how to get out of . Just because he has a page with a picture of a 14 year old boy doesn't actually mean he's 14 or that he just wants to talk about football!
I'm not going to re- hash other articles on computer safety and I'm certainly not trying to imply you don't know the dangers or indeed keep your children safe but there's no harm in being reminded of the type of people that exist in Internet work who don't have you or your child's best interests at heart. The BBC have great safety advice on their website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/topics/safety-and-privacy/internet-safety-for-kids
And please, if you have any concerns or your child tells you something that you're worried about report it to the police. It may be something or nothing or it could be the missing part of an investigation.......