ISPCC alert over online grooming of children

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

A CASE in which a 13-year-old Limerick girl was sexually assaulted and then sent explicit content on Facebook highlights the importance of staying safe online, according to the ISPCC.

A CASE in which a 13-year-old Limerick girl was sexually assaulted and then sent explicit content on Facebook highlights the importance of staying safe online, according to the ISPCC.

A 39-year-old man, the father of one of the girl’s friends, was sentenced to 10 months in prison - with the last six suspended - after fondling the teenager at his home in Garryowen last year. Limerick District Court heard that he had subsequently posted obscene content on his victim’s Facebook account.

“We are told that her sister noticed content on her Facebook page which was graphic and explicit, so explicit in fact that she may not have been able to understand some of the references,” said Judge Eugene O’Kelly. Investigating gardai believed “he may have been involved in grooming” his victim, which had thankfully not resulted in a further assault.

Responding to the case, the ISPCC’s Rhona McGinn commented: “Young people are using the internet everyday and using social media to share private information. As adults it is imperative that we keep talking to young people about how to stay safe online, blocking unwanted messages and the importance of reporting any abusive or worrying content. Parents must keep the lines of communication open and encourage their children to discuss who they chat to and what they look at while online.”

An ISPCC survey conducted among 18,000 young people last year found that almost half of secondary-aged children used the internet without parental supervision and quarter of that age group did not use privacy settings on their social network profiles.

The ISPCC’s advice for parents - The Safe Click Guide - can be viewed at the publications section of its website.