Eating disorder ‘rabbit hole’ on TikTok

  • Research by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) explored the experiences of young girls on TikTok by creating over 100 ‘bot accounts’ that browsed the app.
  • Twelve were registered as 13-year-old girls browsing content related to weight loss, alcohol, and gambling.
  • Out of the 255,000 videos that the ‘bots’ watched, 32,700 contained a description or metadata pertaining to weight loss, 11,615 videos had text descriptions related to eating disorders and 4,402 had a combination of keywords that indicated the normalization of eating disorders.
  • Several videos were reportedly using different spellings for eating disorder-related keywords to avoid getting flagged by TikTok.
  • TikTok has announced that it is working on new ways to prevent these dangerous rabbit holes from forming when browsing.
  • Full story, here.

Parents fear children could be exploited by county lines gangs

  • More than four in five (84%) parents fear their children could be exploited into county lines drug dealing in their local area.
  • A survey commissioned by the Children’s Society showed that some parents were worried about their children being groomed online for criminal exploitation.
  • Almost half of parents reported being uncertain about what to do if they were concerned about someone grooming a child in their community.
  • A recent study conducted by the University of Nottingham revealed the pandemic continued to have a significant impact on efforts to safeguard children.
  • For more information on county lines, check out our blog post.
  • Full story, here.

Met police officer due in court on charge of sexual communication with a child

  • A Metropolitan police officer is due to appear in court on Monday charged with sexual communication with a child.
  • PC Will Scott-Barrett, who is based in the Met’s intelligence command, was charged in November.
  • The charge is related to an allegation made in February and is concerned with conduct while the officer was off duty.
  • An investigation was conducted by the force’s online child sexual abuse and exploitation command.
  • The Met said Scott-Barrett was suspended from duty after the initial allegation was made.
  • Full story, here.

Plan to help pupils do better at school could be sunk by lack of funding

  • The NI Executive has been urged to prioritise the funding of a report into educational underachievement.
  • The report ‘A Fair Start’ was established by former Education Minister Peter Weir.
  • It aims to examine the links between persistent educational underachievement and socio-economic background and draw up an action plan.
  • Funding for the projects needs to be prioritised for it to take place and help children affected.
  • Full story, here.