This post has been written by Anjali Krishnan, a 2nd year student from JEMTEC School of Law, IP University.
~The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children. – Nelson Mandela~
Child abuse is a situation when a parent or a caregiver, by some of their action or non-action, harms the child. Child abuse can be of various types- physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual type of child abuse. It is a serious issue which, if left unattended, would leave a long-term trauma to the kid or even cause death of the child. It is one of the most uncomfortable and cumbersome topic to talk about because its surrounded by guilt and shame and so on, but us avoiding that issue does not help those kids in need out there who need support.
The past few decades have seen tremendous change in terms of development and technologies in our society. Many new discoveries and invention took place in the society, one of which was the internet. With the help of internet everyone’s life started to change. People could connect with people across the globe, could search literally anything that comes up in their mind, and many more stuffs. But with this advancement in the society few disadvantages also emerged. Some people started to misuse the internet, they started to commit crime and harm others.
As internet has reached to more homes, the number of children and teenagers using the internet has also increased. One of the downsides of the internet is the opportunity it is creating for children to get harmed or abused. This situation is called child abuse through internet. To fall under this category, any person below the age of 18 is considered a child. In this article, we would be talking about kinds of abuse children face through internet these days and some of the recent cases where children were involved in crimes related to internet.
TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE ON INTERNET –
- CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION:
Sexual exploitation against children are increasing at an alarming rate. With the worldwide usage of internet, it is easier for children to get access to the sexual content. This also makes it easier for the perpetrators who are trying to find children whom they can coerce into doing acts that would be sexually abusive in nature. The internet creates a simple and quick platform for these perpetrators to communicate to the children and helps them to remain anonymous or helps them to make fake identifications.
The perpetrator can lurk around the chat rooms and other online platforms to gather information of the victim. Once he has sufficient information, he would contact the victim via private chatroom and arrange a real-life meeting so that he could engage in sexual activities with the victim.
Usually the perpetrator chooses their victim who have a particular characteristic. These children are normally called the ‘risk at’ children. They are children who have some problem with getting attention from their families, friends or love partners, mistreated or emotionally disturbed children, children with big respect to adult status, children from single parent or children with low self-esteem.
- PAEDOPHILES ACTIVITIES:
Paedophiles are people who have perversion towards children. Men and women both can do paedophile activities towards children between age group of 3-18. Generally, studies have shown most paedophiles are of the age group 30. Online platforms are the best place for them to find their prey and fulfill their lust for children for the purpose of sexual activities. These platforms help them to create group where other paedophiles encourage, give advises, and provide information of getting materials to other paedophiles.
This increase in paedophile activities have in turn increased the number of child pornography. Child pornography is a type of pornography where children are made to do sexual activities with some adult. Most of the times, the face of the children is morphed and is shown as smiling and laughing. This is done to show that the children have given their consent for the same. There are an estimated 14 million sites which provide child pornography content online.
- EXPOSURE TO INAPPROPRIATE MATERIALS:
Australian Broadcasting Authorities had conducted a study which reported that 47 percent of children of 11-17 where unintentionally were exposed to inappropriate materials which included sexual content, disgusting and disturbing violent contents.
Most inappropriate material children come across are the sexual material. Children get easy excess to pornography site. As stated, before many of the children come across these sexual contents unintentionally.
In addition to the sexual contents, they may come across some violent content as well. The violent contents may involve documentary or films related drugs, abuse of various kinds or warship and weapons. Similarly, concerns have been raised about the violence against women and depicts that women are inferior to men.
- OTHER FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE:
There are many portals in internet through which child abuse can be done. Other than the types discussed above there are many other potential ways through which perpetrators can abuse children via the internet. One of them is promotion of child sexual tourism. This practice has been more seen in Asian countries.
Online harassment is another form of online child abuse. Young people have to face bullying, emotional traumas, humiliations by other users of the platforms. These kind of experience makes a child go through anxiety and traumas throughout their life if they are not given proper treatment and counselling.
RECENT INCIDENT RELATED TO CHILD ABUSE IN INTERNET.
There are many incidents going on related to child abuse over the internet throughout the world every minute, but a few of these incidents were so major and shocking that they made it to the headlines in the daily newspaper. Two of them have been mentioned below:
- THE Nth ROOM CASE (SOUTH KOREA): This issue took place in South Korea. In this case, a chatroom was formed in the telegram app with more than 200 participants. In that chatroom sexually abusive contents were shared. Most of these contents involved girls below the age of 18. The main admin of the chatroom would follow girls through their social media platforms and gather sensitive information. Later he would coerce the girl with information about them and make them record/perform sexual activities. These videos were then shared in the chatroom and all the participants were asked to pay some money to the admin in exchange to these videos.
In early 2020, the South Korean police found the main admin of the chatroom. Trials are going on for this case right now.
- THE BOIS LOCKER ROOM CASE (INDIA): In early May 2020, the screenshots related to ‘the bois locker room’ had gone viral. Some teenage boys had created an Instagram group where they used to share obscene pictures of girls and discuss about them and their body parts. They also used to share morphed pictures of women. Though the investigation is going on, there are no proof of them talking in manner of sexual assault.
The police till now have arrested two adult group admin, one active participant and one juvenile who has been send to the correction house. It is said that there are more than 24 participants of that group.
As the whole country is going through a lock down due to the ongoing pandemic, the chances of children using the internet have increased even more. With the increase in usage of internet, the chances of children falling prey to online abuse would also increase. This is the time when the parents should be vigilant and look after the kids. They should also remind that their children are special and well loved. Keeping an eye on their children while they use internet would be a good practice to start with but the parents should also remember that they should not invade the privacy of their child.
Not only the parents but governments should also up their game as the number of online child abuse have been rising at an alarming rate. India has an act called POCSO which have provisions related to children sexual abuse. But the government should amend the act and add provisions related to internet child abuse. On December 2019, the legislation has raised a motion for adding the provisions related to online abuse for the act. If the said provisions are passed and included in the act, then the chances of lowering the crime rates related to this would be high.