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The European Online Grooming Project_ Findings Launch The British Academy 3 rd February 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "The European Online Grooming Project_ Findings Launch The British Academy 3 rd February 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 The European Online Grooming Project_ Findings Launch The British Academy 3 rd February 2011

2 Presentation overview The European Online Grooming Project_ Legislative and empirical context Project design Interview findings Young people online Safety, treatment & policy implications Next steps

3 European Consortium UK –Stephen Webster, National Centre for Social Research, London –Professor Julia Davidson, Kingston University, London –Professor Antonia Bifulco, Kingston University, London Belgium –Professor Thierry Pham, University de Mons, Belgium Italy –Professor Vincenzo Caretti, Università degli Studi di Palermo Norway –Professor Petter Gottschalk Norwegian School of Management, Oslo

4 The European Online Grooming Project_ Largest study of online grooming to date. Aims: –understand the different ways sexual offenders approach, communicate and groom young people online. –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

5 Scale of the Challenge 30m US children online in 2000 (Gottschalk, 2010); 2,660 reports of inappropriate approaches (Centre for Exploited & Missing Children). UK: 1 in 5 young people receive sexual solicitation, over two thirds unsupervised online (Davidson & Martellozzo, 2008). CEOP: (11/2010): 6291 reports via panic button, 66% related to online grooming. Increase in self-taken images of young people in offender collections.

6 EU Directives Combating the Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography (2009) outlines protection challenge with wide variation in criminal law and enforcement. Article 5 - online grooming solicitation of children for sexual purposes (p5)… –each member state to ensure this conduct is punishable in law. –children under age of consent under national law, adult arranges to meet for the purposes of sexual abuse via 'an information system (p5).

7 Lisbon Treaty European Commission (03/10) –indecent child image websites blocked from the Internet. –human traffickers handed maximum sentences of 5-10 years. Proposal's scope would also punish grooming and ensure abusers cannot re-offend in another EU country. Change use of term child pornography to indecent image.

8 National Legislation UK one of the first EU states to initiate online grooming legislation (s15, Sexual Offences Act 2003, England & Wales). Norway followed the UKs example (2007), General Civil Penal Code, Article 195. Sweden introduced legislation in 2009. No online grooming legislation in Belgium or Italy.

9 Research Context Literature focussed primarily on indecent image evidence to date (Seto & Eke 2005; OBrien & Webster 2007). Some co-occurrence of contact sexual offences among indecent image offenders (Wolak et al, 2005; Seto et al, 2006; Hernandez, 2000). Position remains unclear.

10 Theoretical Framework Cannot explain online grooming without understanding the offender – computer – young person interaction. Multiple theories explored to explain the behaviour: –online disinhibition effect (Suller, 2004) –self-regulation model (Ward & Hudson, 2005) –attachment theory (van Ijzendorm, 1997; Burk & Burkhart, 2003) –cognitive-affective processes (Fonagy, 1999; Fonagy et al 2002) –contextual ecological models (Bronfenbrenner, 1995)

11 Research Findings

12 Research Design Three interlinked phases: –Scoping interviews with stakeholders (police officers, treatment providers, industry staff), case-file review; development of theoretical model; literature review. –In-depth interviews with 33 online groomers in the UK, Norway, & Belgium – chat-logs from Italy. –Workshops with parents, teachers & young people. Framework analysis - case & theme based approach.

13 Sample (n=33) N Age18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ 4 7 11 7 4 IQ ScoreLow (<=90) Average (91-109) High (110+) Not known 5 7 15 6 Pre-consNone Non-sexual Sexual children Off-line On-line 16 6 5 N Victim age 5-9 10-12 13-15 1 5 27 Victim gender Male Female 5 26 OffenceOnline grooming no meeting 2 Online grooming meeting 8 Images & online grooming – no meet 5 Images & online grooming – meet 18

14 Challenging Assumptions All online groomers want to meet young people… Pornography and indecent images cause online offending… Young people are passive when communicating with adults…. All online offending involves socialisation…..

15 Who are Online Groomers? Like contact sexual offenders – not a homogeneous group. Where differ: –high IQ but not particularly high educational attainment –IT competence seems to be primarily self taught, via workplace, observing family and online research Using full range of ICT hardware, chatrooms, social networking sites, file-sharing sites and game platforms to contact young people

16 Features of Online Grooming Vulnerability Scanning Identity Contact Desensitisation & Intensity Outcomes Perceptions of YP & Behaviour MaintenanceRisk Management Dissonance IT Security Private Spaces Online Environment

17 Maintenance Online Environment The Internet –Confidence –Stimulation –Scale plenty of fish in the sea, youll catch one eventually Addiction –Tense if not online Disinhibition –Anonymity (on both sides) –Normalising explicit sexual conduct Dissonance Adult & Child Images & Chat –Justifies abuse –Fuels fantasy –Escalates some behaviours Offence Supportive Beliefs –Harm reduction views –Socio-affective reasons –External locus of control Perceptions, Behaviour of YP –Sexual screen names –Sexual chat

18 Grooming Features Vulnerability –Situational –Interpersonal Scanning –Mapping –Random –Virtual presentation Identity –Self –Minor changes –Other I never used my own identity, you change names, you lay it on.. Contact –Single & multiple encounters –Varied timescale –Diverse styles Desensitisation & Intensity –Sex request You test them by saying are you this or that and see if receptive.. –Incentives –Threats Outcomes –Collect image –Meet young person

19 Risk Management Personal logistics online –Proxy servers –Hiding images/chat –Multiple hardware & phones Personal spaces –Private forums –Switch to phone Geography –Different victim location from home

20 Classifying Online Offenders Distorted Attachment Believe in mutual consent/love No images or group contact Longer contact process Uses own identity Physical meeting Hyper-Sexual Dehumanise YP Extensive image collections Contact with other offenders Tailored/sexual identity Fast, impersonal contact methods Adaptable Offender Own needs focus Believes YP mature/provocative Minimal image collections, if any Tailored contact /mirroring victim Own & tailored identity

21 Features of Online Grooming & Types Vulnerability Scanning Identity Contact Desensitisation & Intensity Outcomes Perceptions of YP & Behaviour MaintenanceRisk Management Dissonance IT Security Private Spaces Online Environment

22 Young People Online

23 Context Project focused on interviewing online groomers only. No direct contact with victims. Themes included in offender topic guide regarding age, choice of victims, type of grooming approach & victims response. Although not a statistically drawn sample, victims described by the online groomers in this research tended to be female teenagers.

24 Existing Research Evidence Vulnerable: high affection needs, attention, difficult relationships with parent. Seeking love online - a true relationship. Resist disclosure to continue relationship. Risk-taking: seek adventure, disinhibited, feel in control. Less known about family risks. Open to non-disclosure blackmail - own behaviour used by groomer as proof of cooperation or seduction. Resilient: fend off approaches considered weird. Adopt safety messages. Secure family backgrounds. Palmer, 2006, Davidson & Martelozzo, 2008

25 Vulnerability Dimensions: 1 Loneliness Many of the girls lacked adult contact….they felt safe with me.. I always made time… When a girl said she was in love with me, it was easier to handle. Self-harm Self-mutilation observed by at physical meeting. Self-esteem Concern about body image -groomer exploits by mirroring compliments.

26 Vulnerability Dimensions: 2 Concurrent sexual abuse She wanted attention in her life, she said she had lost her mum and her step-dad abused her. They had no hang ups, they were already being abused. Family Break-up Looked after young people, separated children. Consequently….offender meets needs to extent they perceive young person in control of the encounter: –She began to pester me to go online and talk to her. –She could walk away from me at any time and she new this. –They ask me, theyre re convinced theyre adults, whos the victim?

27 Disinhibited Online Risk-Takers Involved using sexual screen names; using sexual chat; populating adult chat rooms; sending explicit images of self. Online groomers watch for and drawn to this: –she said Id love to shag an older guy. –one girl said, would you like to see me naked? –she said Hi Im 16 and fancy chatting to a fifty-year old. However, online confidence did not always mirror offline reality: –she was really quiet when met, even after a few meetings she never really said anything. –she presented as womanly and mature but when we met I knew it was just a mask….

28 Resilient Young People Evidence of safety messages getting through as offenders told by some to go away in no uncertain terms. –It was not easy as young girls had been taught not to talk to guys age 20. –when presented own identity, was told piss off you nonce. –sometimes they would hang up and Id just forget it. –I wouldnt get cross if the girls said no I would just move on to the next one.

29 Explanatory Frameworks for Offender & Victim Self-regulation: under-regulation, mis-regulation, disinhibition. Attachment patterns: social approach/avoidance – loneliness, lack of social confidence, anonymity to mask fear of rejection, lack of empathy. Cognitive-affective processes: defensive patterns, mentalisation, self-awareness, denial. Contextual social factors: opportunity, access, desensitisation, internet availability young people.

30 Matching of Offender and Victim Distorted attachment Adaptable Focus own need Hyper- sexualised Vulnerable Risk taking Resilient Offender Young Person Psychological Profile Attachment/vulnerability Disinhibition/regulation Context & Protective factors

31 Implications

32 Prevention, Intervention & Treatment Safety messages to YP, parents teachers Technological preventative solutions Monitoring, risk awareness, diagnostic tools

33 Online Safety & Industry: 1 Targeting Why are some YP more resilient, less likely to interact? Messages Consider online disinhibition in context of safety campaigns for YP, should there be a more targeted approach? Can industry work more proactively to raise awareness with young people, parents and educators? Appropriate online behaviour, ethical use, digital footprint – level 1 images in offender collections.

34 Online Safety & Industry: 2 Logistics Consider how SNS might design out offender behaviour (grooming, networking, indecent image sharing). Is more specialist monitoring possible? Health Consequences Issue of harm in context of offender approach- all YP may be harmed at some level. How can this be managed?

35 Offender Management & Assessment Management Consider if possible to more closely monitor Internet related behaviours under MAPPA? Assessment Understand risks that accompany certain behaviours. Develop validated diagnostic tools that allow for exploration of online behaviours with all offenders.

36 Offender Treatment The role of the Internet within treatment - nature of online reality for individuals. How easy it is for some offenders to feel anonymous and disinhibited. The process of networking and normalising. Consider moving away from Internet only treatment groups – some issues no different to other CSAs.

37 Reflections for the Panel…… A public health problem that requires a multi- disciplinary, flexible response: Managing Online Grooming Tailored safety programmes Awareness for parents & educators Secure online environments Offender risk & intervention

38 Next Steps Focus groups with parents, teachers and young people (March – May 2011) Annual report (June 2011) Final report (December 2011)

39 Further Information ex_en.htm ex_en.htm Project Contacts:;;;;;

40 Staying in touch Follow us on twitter @NatCen Remember to hashtag the European Online Grooming Project #POG

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