In the pandemic, online child care has increased, in 32 cases involving children under 9 years of age

On the occasion of the National Day against Pedophilia and Child Pornography, which takes place on 5 May, Save the Children and the postal police have published a data file on online grooming – which grew in the years of the pandemic – and a guide for parents

During 2021, there were 5,316 cases of child pornography processed by the postal police, with an increase of 47% compared to the previous year (3,243). The number of minors approached online by violent adults is also growing, corresponding to 531, mostly under the age of 13 (338 minors, almost 64%, of whom 306 in the age group 10-13), but they are growing as well as cases of online care of children in the 0-9 year range (32 cases).

It is the data that unfortunately only represent the tip of the iceberg of a submerged phenomenon that is struggling to come to light. Pedophiles or groomers (adult whores interested in minors) who use the network and its services to try to get in touch with boys and girls were 208, corresponding to 15% of the total number of suspects for the exchange of child pornographic material (1,421 adults) . This percentage corresponds to adults with a criminal capacity and a complex modus operandi, based on an in-depth knowledge of the victims’ language, usage habits and fragility, to enable them to get in touch, perform direct interaction. and managing online relationships with girls, boys and young people.

This is what emerges from the in-depth study of online grooming, a phenomenon that has grown following the SARS-Covid19 pandemic launched today on the eve of National Day against Pedophilia and Child Pornography with the release of a data file and a guide for parents, as part of the collaboration between the State Police and Save the Children, the organization that for over 100 years has fought to save girls and boys in danger and secure them a future.

The agreement between the state police and Save the Children – sanctioned by the memorandum of understanding for the protection of minors and the prevention of online abuse, signed on 5 February 2021 – aims to facilitate minors’ access to an online environment. safer, to prevent the risks associated with the unintentional use of the network, including cyberbullying, to combat online sexual abuse, the promotion of prevention activities, reporting and the early emergence of potential assaults. The SARS-Covid19 pandemic has forced children and adults into a sudden change in many habits. Millions of users, even very small ones, have had to resort to the Internet to continue numerous daily activities, from work to study, in safety against epidemiological risks. The overall effects have also affected the world of online deviations, increasing the presence of pedophiles, child pornographers and prostitutes. As a result, an increasing number of boys, girls and young people have been contacted online by adults, interested in participating in sexual conversations, receiving private pictures from them, committing online abuse and even requesting offline sexual encounters.

From the dossier “Online sexual abuse to the detriment of minors”, by the National Center for the Fight against Online Child Pornography (CNCPO) from the Post and Communications Police Service of Rome in collaboration with Save the Children, it appears that most affected are the pre-teens age, between 10 and 13 years, which in 2021 registered 306 victims of online care, almost 60% of all 531 minors contacted online by groomers, despite the fact that minors 13 years do not have access to social networks. Gender does not affect the level of risk: men and women are almost equally at the center of online care cases intercepted by the postal police. In general, children and young people who use the Internet seem to be more exposed to the risk of lures when using social networks and messages.

The data regarding the age group 0-9 years, which are increasingly involved, are worrying.

Particular dangers arise from role-playing and online video games: the growing attraction that these services exert on the little ones has led pedophiles to also focus their attention on gaming platforms (online video games), take advantage of their chat and messaging services and offer the opportunity to connect more easily. minors.

“With the implementation of the protocol – explains Ivano Gabrielli, director of the postal police and communications service – we reaffirm the importance of networking in a synergistic way with the association world. Threats to childhood and youth now also come from the web, the speed at which they worsens, makes it necessary to build the best public-private alliances to take concrete action to protect and protect young victims.Together with Save the Children, we have chosen to create a tool based on the brand new study of the development of online threat phenomena : a data file and a guide for parents that builds an immediate response to changes, such as those imposed by the covid19 pandemic, which no one would have ever imagined, and which dramatically demonstrated their most dangerous aspect. combating child pornography and online solicitation, carried out by the Post and Communications Police, with the coordination of the CNCPO, can be done even more ef effective by promoting initiatives aimed at developing further levels of risk awareness with the common and ambitious goal of protecting children and young people anytime, anywhere, even in cyberspace. “

“The recorded increase in the case of online grooming, which coincides with the period when girls, boys and teenagers have spent most of their time online, is an important signal that we can not underestimate. The Network for the Prevention and Treatment of victims must grow and strengthen a system of protection involving public institutions, private subjects and the third sector.To spread the culture of prevention, it is important to strengthen the pedagogical role of parents, which must be supported in accompanying their children in the most informed, competent and safe use Our cooperation with the Postal Police goes in this direction, in implementing the protocol for implementing joint initiatives to promote the rights of children and young people as part of the common commitment to prevent and combat all forms of violence and sexual abuse. to the detriment of boys, girls and young people, “said Raffaela Milano, Save the Children’s Director of Italy-Europe prog the framework.

To provide parents and educators with an appropriate tool, also aimed at responding to the expansion of the use of digital technologies and the lowering of the age groups for those who access digital environments, the guide is “Grooming Online. Knowing and Preventing” , prepared by the Cybercrime Analysis Unit of the Post Police (UACI) and Save the Children.The guide contains three sections, each dedicated to parents in different age groups: boys and girls aged 0-6; aged 6-10; pre-teens aged 11 -13 years, each with the description of some specific experiences at each age, with the pedagogical challenges for reference adults and with general and concrete advice regarding the main problems.All this to follow boys, girls and young people in understanding digital environments, for on a safe and conscious way to take full advantage of the network’s opportunities.

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