Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner is urging parents and agencies to work harder to protect children online.
It follows a report from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) Centre which found that paedophiles are using blackmail to force hundreds of young people to perform sexual acts online, turning them into little more than sex slaves.
Ceop also revealed that seven children targeted by abusers in this way had killed themselves.
Tony Lloyd is now seeking a meeting with Ceop bosses to see what practical steps can be taken to protect our young people.
Tony said: “This report is shocking. The idea that children are being driven to suicide because they are being taken advantage of online should send a chill down our spines.
“But it’s also welcome that Ceop is highlighting the issue. Every parent, every family and every agency involved in the support and protection of our young people from youth clubs to schools to police have to examine what more we can do to combat this.
“We have to look at how we can strengthen our children’s capacity to resist this and know where to go if they are targeted.
“It is vital we tackle this problem now because otherwise it is something that can only grow and grow and grow. A few years ago the internet was something you had to dial up from a computer, now it is on virtually every phone and the reality is our young people know better how to access it than we do.
“That’s why we need to establish what we can do in practical terms to keep our children safe. So I’m making contact with Ceop to get into a meaningful dialogue about what more can be done by parents, families, schools and agencies to keep our children safe.”
Ceop’s investigation revealed that more than 400 children, nearly 200 of whom were in the UK, had been targeted by abusers who posed as other young people to lure their victims into conversations about sex, persuading them to share indecent images or videos of themselves.
The offenders would then threaten to send the images to victims’ friends or family unless they carried out more extreme sexual acts.
Ceop has been involved in 12 international operations to identify the offenders. Shockingly, it’s feared that the victims identified are just the tip of the iceberg.
Practical advice for children, young people and parents about how to keep yourself safe online is available at http://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
More information about Ceop’s investigation is available here.