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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. 

North Belfast shop offering a ‘safe space’ for kids as schools return

  • Cavehill Spar has taken to social media to reassure local parents and children that the shop is always there as a ‘safe space” in an emergency. 
  • The shop has been serving the community since 1980 and is located close to primary and secondary schools, including Cavehill Primary School and Blessed Trinity College. 
  • They urged parents to let their children know “whether they have missed their bus, their phone’s battery has died, or just need a safe point to be picked up from we can help. Just ask in store and we will do all we can to provide assistance to get them home.” 
  • For more, please visit the Belfast Live website. 

NI parents ‘at breaking point’ over exorbitant childcare costs, says new survey

  • A survey has been commissioned by the Department of Education to carry out structural surveys to determine if the concrete used has been deemed unsafe in NI schools. 
  • Initial findings show the department does not believe that RAAC panels were widely used in Northern Ireland healthcare facilities. 
  • However, guidance has been issued to the HSC Trusts and “where there is doubt there is survey that has to be undertaken to determine the condition of nay RAAC to identify any necessary risk mitigation actions required”. 
  • For more, please visit the ITV News website. 

Check out our Online Safety Training for Schools! Head on over to our Safer Schools NI website for more information and to get signed up!