Police on Tuesday warned that the increased use of the internet by minors during the coronavirus lockdown brings increased risk of child grooming.
In an announcement on Tuesday, police said that now more than ever, amid the coronavirus crisis, social media and other online messaging apps constitute a means for criminals to ‘fish’ for and sexual abuse minors.
The police clarified that the term ‘sexual abuse’ usually brings to mind a dramatic kidnapping or a violent event, though experience and recent studies have showed that more than half of underage victims of sexual abuse first met their perpetrator online.
“Child grooming for sexual purposes can take place exclusively online, without the victim even knowing who their perpetrator is,” the police said, explaining that child abuse occurs when a person takes advantage of a minor for money-making purposes, or in order to obtain nude audiovisual material.
Advice issued by police
To deal with the increased risk of online child grooming, police suggest that parents or guardians maintain a healthy communication with children, ensure they explain the risks associated with certain online practices, and to be aware of the applications being used by minors.
Parents or guardians should also make sure that they tweak the settings of certain apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, to ensure child protection setting are activated.