In 2023 what threats to children should be "top of mind" for safe adults?
Online threats continue to hamper child safety efforts. Ironically, online efforts by perpetrators are not only byproducts of modern technology, but also indicators that traditional child safety standards are effective.
The continual monitoring by safe adults of the physical and verbal interactions between adults and children in public or in semi-private settings does prevent grooming and sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, online technology allows adult predators to groom targets and commit abuse outside the watchful eyes and ears of safe adults.
It is no secret that social media interaction between adults and children present a risk. This threat continues to be dangerous, especially when online familiarity escalates to grooming, including the exchange of compromising images or physical contact. This threat will continue in 2023.
An additional online trend are adults with physical access who confine their communications to children online. The use of technologies, like Snapchat, that erase evidence of solicitation and exploitation increases the risk. This type of technology makes it harder for safe adults to detect and law enforcement to prove sexual abuse.
Exploitation of children online for profit or desire, including online child pornography and sexual exploitation, continues as well. Anecdotally, I have seen an increase of instances (or reporting of instances) where parents and guardians are exchanging images of child sexual abuse in exchange for money or drugs. These images are then sold or made available on the Dark Web. This type of child sexual abuse is very hard to detect, let alone prevent.
The takeaway is that threats to children continue into 2023, including many online threats. Decades of effort to make environments safer for children have had an impact, but offenders continue to find ways to "work around" and exploit children.
Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.
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