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Internet Grooming - Understanding Offender Behaviour and Protecting Young People House of Lords 26 th March 2010 Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS)

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Presentation on theme: "Internet Grooming - Understanding Offender Behaviour and Protecting Young People House of Lords 26 th March 2010 Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Internet Grooming - Understanding Offender Behaviour and Protecting Young People House of Lords 26 th March 2010 Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS) Child Internet Safety Event

2 Centre for Abuse & Trauma Studies New centre is collaborative venture between Kingston University & Royal Holloway, University of London Profs Davidson (Criminology) & Bifulco (Health and Social care) are the Co-Directors CATS aims to incorporate research and practice into a broad range of abuse issues. Focus on victims, offenders and legal issues. Focus on research findings and practice applications in criminal justice, social work and health settings.

3 CATS and offender research Julia Davidson Background research Evaluation community sex offender programmes & Comparison sex offender & victim accounts of offence circumstance Funder: National Probation Service & Home office (2001) Davidson Evaluation Metropolitan Police Safer Surfing internet safety programme (2005) Funders: Metropolitan Police Authority & Crime-stoppers with Lord Ashcroft Davidson Young People’s online experience - CEOP and national Audit Office (2009) Practice implications – developing training courses on internet safety for CJS practitioners

4 CATS and victim research Toni Bifulco Background research: Putting children at the centre of police practice. Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Command. Evaluating the use of the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse (CECA) interview in Child Safeguarding Services. (Kingston Safeguarding Services). Evaluating attachment in abused young people in residential care St Christopher’s Fellowship New research planned –To examine specific effects of internet abuse on victims Practice implications –Training on abuse assessment tools for practitioners in health and social care

5 The European Online Grooming Project_ Stephen Webster (NatCen, UK ) Prof Julia Davidson ( KU, UK ) Prof Antonia Bifulco ( RHUL, UK ) Petter Gottschalk ( BI Norwegian School Management) Prof Thierry Pham ( University Mons-Hainault, Belgium) Prof Vincenzo Caretti ( University Palermo, Italy )

6 The European Online Grooming Project Largest study of online grooming to date Aims: –to understand the different ways sexual offenders approach, communicate and ‘groom’ young people online –to empower policy makers, front line professionals, teachers, carers and young people to effectively manage online risks Co-funded by the European Union, through the Safer Internet Plus Programme. Running from June 2009 to December 2011

7 European Online Grooming Project (2009-2011) - Aims Explore behaviour of offenders who groom online. Describe how different forms of information, communication technology are used to facilitate the process of online grooming. Further the current low knowledge base about the way in which young people are selected and prepared for abuse online Make a significant contribution to the development of educational awareness and preventative initiatives aimed at parents, teachers and young people

8 Study outline Three phases –Scoping interviews with stakeholders, review of police case-files; development of theoretical model, literature review –Interviews with online groomers in the UK, Norway, Italy & Belgium –Dissemination activities to parents, teachers, young people in Europe Research and methods approved ethically by NOMS, National Research Committee (October 2009)

9 Scoping findings: Model development Two broad ‘types’ of groomer are hypothesised: targeted and opportunistic Offender maintenance appears to run concurrently with phases and encompasses: cognitive distortions; time on offender forums; indecent image collections Groomers appear to pass through the phases in minutes, hours or days – process does appear to have speeded up A nine phase model of grooming behaviour in development Scoping report April 2010, Webster, Davidson, Bifulco, Gottschalk, Caretti, Pham & Grove-Hills, European Commission Safer Internet Plus Programme.

10 Stakeholder quotes I’ve got suspects at the moment who have four identities…..they’ve created two identities of 13 year old girls and two male, and what this guy has done is absolutely plan it to make sure that he can have backup. He’ll have one on Yahoo! Messenger, one on MSN. Why? Well, you can’t be on two MSN at the same time but you can be on others, so he can actually be two people (UK SH 4 - police) If he hopes to communicate, he’s got to speak the same lingo. If they don’t communicate the same way, if the groomer isn’t familiar with the language the kid uses, it just isn’t going to happen (Belgium, SH3 police)

11 Stakeholder quotes – blackmail The groomer gradually increases his control on the victim, who doesn’t really realize it. An example of this control is the online blackmail: I remember a..young girl seduced on chat by a groomer who started to recharge her mobile phone, as a normal favour a friend can do another one. He then started asking her to send him pictures of her bare-breasted and then with only her underwear on. When she refused to give him pictures of her totally naked, the groomer had enough photos to blackmail her (Italy SH4 – Internet expert)

12 Grooming – planned behaviour I think grooming is planned out in advance. In my opinion, they have a very precise game plan (Belgium SH4 - Police) I want to understand how online grooming activity is connected to other kinds of risk activities and offensive activities and what are the underlying dynamics in the grooming process as such, what part of the grooming process is different in the big picture. As a therapist I’m concerned with the underlying motivation. What is it that propels these people to commit these acts? If we want to help them and avoid abuse in future, we need to understand this. (Norway SH4 – Treatment Provider)

13 Groomer characteristics Well, my first thought is it’s useful to know if they’re different because what you want to understand as a treatment provider always is why did you do it, what made him want to do it, what enabled him to do it, what triggered it, what maintained it, all that kind of thing. So, if people, if people’s different routes into offending mean something different in that respect, but you see I do think, this kind of goes back to what I was trying to say earlier, is why a lot of the research isn’t very helpful, I think people have done research that they can do, all we’ve got, particularly internet offenders we can split in to two groups and we’ll compare them without really thinking about. How valuable is it, is it if we do and I’m, often I get journals with an internet paper and I look at the abstract and I get halfway through and I think oh it’s not really going to tell me anything. (UK SH1 Treatment Provider)

14 Groomer cognitive distortions Powerful Internet - feeling addicted to the Internet, overwhelmed by and powerless to the Web. Role-play – ‘it’s not really me online; I was certain that it was another man messing about; I would never actually force myself on a child.’ Sexual Children – ‘the young person is not saying no; they could have stopped it if they wanted to; young people online would not talk as they do if they did not want sexual contact’. Educational – ‘I’m teaching them about sex’.

15 Stakeholders - prevention I’m really concerned about prevention because I see a lot of things out there. If there’s one thing I feel really strongly about, it’s prevention programs for kids. They’re a good thing because kids need to be protected from paedophiles. But when we ask (adolescents) who this type of prevention is for, they say it’s intended for younger kids. That’s the problem (Belgium, SH3 - Police)

16 Stakeholder Quotes- victim behaviour (in a Swedish study of grooming) most of the children had what she (the author) calls self-destructive behaviour. They go online and they are asking, they know what they are doing….taking risk (Norway, SH1, young people expert) …it blows my mind to know that there are more and more young girls out there who know they’re chatting with a grown man. Paedophiles need to hide their age less and less, it’s becoming less and less necessary for them to say they’re 12 years old; they might say they’re 39 instead of 45. More and more, young girls are chatting with grown men even if they know that they’re way older than them. (Belgium, SH3 police)’ …..they are thinking, ‘I am sitting here in my bedroom, what can possibly go wrong’ (UK, SH5, young person specialist) ……..they appreciated being taken serious, they (the online groomers) give them compliments that they are grown up, so the child will get confirmation of being somebody and a grown up (Norway, SH1, young people expert)

17 Next steps: Interviews with online groomers 30 interviews in the UK, conducted by a small, experienced team of NatCen researchers and 15 interviews conducted by partners in European centres Interviews will explore the behaviour of online groomers in detail, including any variation in actions according to their background and the demographics and responses of different young people Interviews aim to develop explanations for different types of grooming behaviours presented in the model Final stage - Holding workshops in schools for teachers and parents to inform about findings and key messages re internet grooming, both in UK and in partner countries.

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