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Sexual predators using social media to lure children

Published:Monday | February 1, 2016 | 2:00 AMAndre Poyser

The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) has raised alarm about what it says is the increased use of social media to entice children into situations where they are sexually abused.

Inspector of Police Cecelia Williams Mullings, of CISOCA, has highlighted the worrying trend of children who are putting themselves in danger by connecting with strangers they meet on social media.

She told The Gleaner that there has been an increase in the number of sexual abuse cases associated with the use of social media.

"One of the greatest challenges that we are having is that our children have become fascinated by what is on social media. Facebook, for example, and WhatsApp, have attracted a lot of our young children, and the threat that we have is that they go on these social-media platforms and meet people they don't know anything about. They build a kind of relationship with them on social media, then they move on to meeting these persons. When they meet these persons, they abuse them sexually, physically, and some of them even end up being killed," she said.

Williams Mullings, who brought greetings at a prayer breakfast put on by the Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Christians, argued that parents have to become more vigilant in monitoring their children's use of social media.

"There is a generation gap. Some of these parents will notice that the children have these phones or tablets, but the parents themselves do not know what is happening on these, so they are not being monitored," she added.

NOTICEABLE INCREASE

While she did not have the exact figures at hand, Williams Mullings disclosed that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of social media-related sexual abuse cases.

In 2015, CISOCA recorded 613 cases of sexual abuse. Since the start of 2016, 39 such cases have been recorded, with nine girls pregnant and 29 of the cases of abuse being committed by adults against children.

Another concern raised by Williams Mullings were viral videos of sexual acts involving children.

She has urged parents to monitor the social-media activities of their children more closely.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com