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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Webwatch: Barnardo's call for urgent action on use of livestreaming to groom children

Written by Henry Vaughan

A children's charity is urging tech giants to take urgent action to protect youngsters from predators after it found more than half of 12-year-olds have livestreamed videos online.

A YouGov survey carried out for Barnardo's found that 57% of 12-year-olds and more than one in four children aged 10 (28%) admitted posting live videos on apps and websites.

Almost a quarter of the 1,000 children aged between 10 and 16 polled said they or a friend have regretted livestreaming content.

Barnardo's said the results show thousands of younger children may be putting themselves at risk of online grooming by sharing live videos on sites with a minimum age limit of 13.

Such websites include SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Musical.ly and Live.ly.

The charity is calling for the Government to force tech giants to provide compulsory child safety features, such as age verification, but says companies must act now to protect children.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Livestreaming is being used by predators to groom children online.

"We know from our specialist services across the UK that children are at risk of 'live grooming' on online platforms.

"Tech companies are simply not doing enough to keep children safe.

"Our research shows that children use livestreaming apps that are not appropriate for their ages so tech giants need to ensure they put robust age-verification rules in place."

Barnardo's said its UK-wide child sexual exploitation services have seen a 38% increase in the number of people they support, while its research suggests nearly half of the children they help have been groomed online.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection said: "Police forces are doing more than ever to stop children from being groomed online, but we cannot arrest our way out of the problem.

"By the time abuse comes to our attention damage is already done.

"Parents need to talk to their children about how to stay safe online and make sure that they have the confidence to speak up if they are approached by a stranger.

"The internet companies need to make sure that they have the necessary measures in place to prevent abuse happening on their platforms.

"More has to be done to protect children from the terrible harm we are now seeing all too frequently."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Adam Peck / PA Wire.