Gardai launch campaign in bid to stop child sexual exploitation online
A campaign against the online sexual exploitation of children has been launched by An Garda Siochána, urging children to ‘Say No’ to sharing intimate images online.
The campaign started by European police agency Europol, and supported by Gardaí, aims to combat the growing trend of young children being blackmailed online with sexual images or extorted for sexual favours or money.
Also known as ‘sextortion’, children have been urged to not share explicit or intimate images with anybody over the internet, including trusted friends, stressing that they be aware that not everybody online is who they claim to be.
A video produced by Europol hopes to raise awareness of the issue.
In the video, a dramatic scenario depicts two teenagers talking and being persuaded to send intimate photos online. The teenagers are led to believe they are chatting to people their own age, but their new friends turn out to be criminals who then attempt to extort payment and more explicit images.
Speaking at the campaign’s launch, Garda Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll emphasised the dangers of sharing such images on social media or messaging services.
“Posting or uploading explicit images on social media, or passing such imagery to others online, is extremely dangerous and can have devastating and lifelong consequences for children and their families,” Mr. O’Driscoll said.
“Parents and children should be aware of the dangers involved and the Garda Síochána advise that explicit images should never be posted or shared online. Any child who receives a request for naked or explicit photographs should not share any images.”
He added: “We ask them to tell their parents and immediately make contact with the Garda Síochána who will advise them regarding how the matter should be handled.”
Those who believe they have been a victim of sexual exploitation or extortion have been advised to not share more images or make any payments.
It is also advised to preserve all evidence (including the device used for communication), block the person from sending additional messages and to report the crime to An Garda Síochána.
Gardaí insist that any crimes of this nature that are reported will be fully investigated.