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The European Online Grooming Project_ Key Findings and Implications House of Lords 18 th April 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "The European Online Grooming Project_ Key Findings and Implications House of Lords 18 th April 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 The European Online Grooming Project_ Key Findings and Implications House of Lords 18 th April 2012

2 Presentation overview The European Online Grooming Project_ Research context Features of online grooming Young people online Key implications Discussion panel

3 European Consortium UK –Stephen Webster, NatCen 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 Commission Safer Internet Plus Programme. Running from June 2009 to March 2012.

5 Context: Online Child Sexual Abuse Internet sexual offender behaviour can include: Construction of virtual communities for exchange of information, experiences, and indecent images Criminal activities that seek to use children for prostitution and to produce indecent images Criminal activities that promote sexual tourism Grooming of children for the purposes of sexual abuse

6 EU Directive Four member states have grooming legislation (UK, Netherlands, Norway & Sweden) EU directive (November 2011) –member states must introduce grooming and child indecent image legislation within two years –minimum sentences: three years in prison for producers of child indecent images, one year for consumers, ten years for forcing children into sexual acts

7 EU Directive: Challenges Legal definition of child determined by legal age of consent, varies widely across Europe - as low as 13 in some EU countries Precautionary nature - requires compelling (and difficult to obtain) evidence regarding the intention to commit offence (Kool, 2011) Reluctance to enforce law at national level

8 Scale of the Challenge 96% of young people aged 7-16 access the internet (Childwise, 2011) Ofcom (2011) children aged 5-7 online (at home) average of 5 hours per week. 12-14 age group online 15 hours per week 1 in 5 young people in UK receive sexual solicitation (Davidson et al 2010). CEOP (2010): 6291 reports via panic button, 66% related to online grooming. Increase in self-taken images of young people in offender collections.

9 Theoretical Framework Cannot explain online grooming without understanding the offender – computer – young person interaction Multiple theories examined 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)

10 Research Findings

11 Research Design Four interlinked phases : –Scoping interviews with stakeholders; 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. –Focus groups with children in the UK, Belgium & Italy –Workshops with professionals, parents, teachers & young people. Framework analysis - case & theme based approach.

12 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



15 Dissonance Adult & Child Images & Chat –Justifies abuse: forum names and content –Fuels fantasy: concurrent use of images and chat –Can escalate some behaviours: purposive image selection; adult and child image content saturation; image supply; Offence Supportive Beliefs –Harm reduction views –Socio-affective reasons

16 Classifying Online Offenders Intimacy-Seeking 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 Focus on own needs Believes YP mature/provocative Some image collections Tailored contact /mirroring victim Own & tailored identity

17 Chat Logs: Italian Context Process of Engaging Young People Online – A Psychological Model

18 Ensuring privacy: 62 year old man, 14 year old girl G: You ready? M: Maybe. G: Maybe or maybe not? Can someone come into your bedroom suddenly? Can it happen? M: Not if I close the door, no. G: Are you allowed to keep your door closed? To lock yourself in? M: Yes. G: Ah, nice… not a lot of girls are allowed to. Ok, close it please.…..Perfect, but be careful, when I text you on the phone… M: Yes, ok G: Dont forget to delete it when we share wicked phrases, right? M: Yes. Yes. Planned Risk Management

19 Desensitisation: G: Just take advantage, youre talking to a grown-up. Try to be more… you know… open-minded. Why not? …Now that I told you how to take full figure or naked pictures, you can practice. M: No, no, never. G: I didnt mean you have to send them. You can practice. You can take some and then cancel them. Its not that bad…. Threats: G: have you received my MMS? (of male genitalia) How is it? M: Oh... I don't know... fine? G: But aren't you going to send me a picture of your xxxxx (female genitalia)? M: No I don't want... G: I THOUGHT YOU TRUSTED ME.. THEN PREPARE YOURSELF TO SEE YOUR PICTURE ON INTERNET.. YOU'LL REGRET IT!!! Desensitisation & Threats 47 year old man,13 year old girl

20 Elements of Grooming StyleTargetMethodIdentityTimingIntensityImages Risk TakingFunction Intimacy- seeking FocusedPlanningOwnLongerYesNoMediumObsessive Adaptable Approach by young person Waiting Own & tailored VariableSomeMinimal Medium/ Low Immature Hyper- sexual RandomScanning Fake: Tailored/ Sexual ShortNoVastHigh Impulsive Aggressive Caretti V., Schimmenti A., Ciulla S., Craparo G. (in press)

21 Psychological State Domain of functioningGroomer mental functioning Relationships and intimacy Need-orientated, lack of empathy Internal states State-dependent self-esteem Affect-regulation Under-regulation, inconsistent affective patterns Defensive Patterns Rationalization, projection, dissociation, splitting Internal representations Externally-oriented thought– lack of mentalization Differentiation and integration Lack of integration, superficial differentiation re own and others need Self awareness Lack of awareness own psychological states; awareness of interpersonal manipulation Moral sense Denial of guilt., lack of internal moral standards

22 Young People Online

23 Context Research focused on interviewing online groomers only - there was no direct contact with victims Themes included in the offender interview regarding age and choice of victims and type of grooming approach As noted earlier, victims tended to be female aged 13-15 Groomers were clear that the majority of young people online appear resilient, but were able to identify characteristics that made them targets as vulnerable or risk-taking.

24 Vulnerability FeatureDistinguishing Themes High need for attention and affection Loneliness Low self-esteem Difficult relationships with parents and difficult home lives Psychological disorder(s) Concurrent sexual abuse Seeking love on the internet. Believe they have a true relationship with groomer. Offender as mentor Self-disclosure and joint problem solving Resist disclosure because they want to continue the relationship. Loyalty Vulnerable Victims

25 Vulnerable Victim Profile Loneliness The girls were definitely insecure and lonely. Many of the girls lacked adult contact…they felt safe with me. I made time… Psychological disorder She was really quiet when met, even after a few meetings she never really said anything – offender noted signs of scarring (self-harm) Self-esteem Young people feeling concerned about their body image and the groomer can exploit this – mirroring compliments Family difficulties She wanted attention in her life, she said she had lost her mum and her step- dad abused her. They had no hang ups- these were girls already being abused Self-disclosure & intimacy When a girl said she was in love with me, it was much easier to handle

26 Risk-taking victimsDistinguishing themes Young people disinhibited, seeking adventure Outgoing Confident Young people (and offender) feel they have control Complicit and consenting to sexual contact Less known about family risks, but less confident on meeting than appear on line. Offender re-assessment on meeting Introverted or immature YP at meeting Open to blackmail not to disclose because of apparent complicity – own behaviour used as evidence of cooperation. Non disclosure of abuse, threats and computer intrusions Risk-taking Victims

27 Risk-taking Profile Disinhibition, used sexual screen names; sexual chat; populated adult chat rooms; sent explicit images of self: –one girl said, would you like to see me naked? –Some girls sent me images without me asking, she said Hi Im 16 and fancy chatting to a fifty-year old. Both YP and offender feel they are in control These young people open to blackmail and feelings of guilt because of apparent complicit sexual behaviour However, online confidence did not always mirror offline reality: –she presented as mature but when we met I knew it was a mask

28 Speculative Offender – YP matching Intimacy Seeking Hyper- sexualised Vulnerable Risk-taking Victim Type More information needed on: Psychological profile; Attachment/vulnerability; Disinhibition/regulation; Context and protective factors Adaptable Offender Type

29 Working With Young People Least likely to interact with groomer Low risk of meeting groomer Safety needs met through standard awareness programmes Resilient Children (majority) Willing to interact, send provocative images or text. game playing. Unlikely to meet, but may be blackmailed Safety needs met through standard programmes- some emphasis on appropriate use of SNS Risk-takers Willing to interact, seeking relationships/friendship Targeted & high risk of meeting, easier to manipulate Vulnerable offline- safeguarding services? Needs exceed standard programme, practitioners screening YP for Internet related abuse? Vulnerable (minority)

30 Online Grooming: Young Peoples Perceptions

31 Focus Groups with Young People 90 young people Aged 11 to 16 From 6 schools in UK, Belgium and Italy. Approximate equal gender split 45 minute sessions, of groups of 8

32 Aims To identify: –the nature and extent of Internet use reported –young peoples understanding and awareness of online safety –their experiences, behaviours and strategies to stay safe online –social networking behaviours –knowledge and attitudes regarding online groomers –attitudes to online safety awareness advice and training Triangulate findings with offender data to draw policy and practice implications

33 Social Networking Sites Almost exclusively using Facebook - declining interest in MSN and webcams, high use of games platforms Older YP (15+) using mobiles to access sites – phone cost deters younger groups going online away from supervision Tend to have around 400 friends (from 40-1000) Some with two or more Facebook profiles - different personal information depending on anticipated viewer: –so that you can change personality…? You can have two different accounts…..on the computer you can be completely different to like when youre talking to someone in real life

34 Safety Awareness Facebook settings and profiles on public a very recurrent theme In absence of safety awareness training people tend to learn by experience with admitted risks to this Important role played by older siblings in advice and guidance - supported by CEOP/NAO research (Davidson et al, 2010) Reluctance to report approaches made by suspicious people for fear of computer privileges being taken away

35 Perceptions of Online Groomers They are old men, ugly, crazy, psychopathic, perverts Would know if contacted by YP because they would use the same language such as shorthand and emoticons (evidence of awareness training need) Curiosity/playfulness leads them to maintain contact with some online strangers (not known friends) some indicators of what type of contact rings alarm bells (persistence, requests for phone numbers)

36 ThemeVerbatim Data Age (and presentation) -Old farts, not 70, more like 40, creepy old man – starey eyes -Old but lives with their parents. -Older than us…and then when hear about them theyre not like you imagine Unattractive appearance -Bearded, bald, sweaty, slimy, disgusting -Like those pictures of people that have gone into prison -Geeks with big old beer guts Unstable personality-A sick person, weirdo, mentally disturbed, crazy, psychopaths Relationship-Theyre people we dont know -Maybe foreign people whod ask me out Sex offenders (generic) -They are child molesters, child profiteers, paedophiles, perverts, rapists Accurate (non-stereotypical) -A man in his thirties who looks for 15 year old girls -Could be a girl though -I always think boys…or men -Want to attract young people - think theyre still young also….

37 Young Peoples Coping Strategies Some report receiving many approaches –Ignore approach –Block approach –where to go –Discuss with friends (not parents)

38 Implications

39 Awareness for parents & educators Managing Online Grooming: A Collaborative Approach Secure online environments Tailored treatment for victims Offender assessment & intervention programmes Policy Makers, Education, Criminal Justice, Psychological Services, Social Workers, NGOs, Charities Contact /exposure Physical Contact harmful materials Prevention Treatment Degree of Harm to YP Public Health Model

40 Prevention & Sentencing Consider how internet providers can design out offender behaviour on SNS (secure profiles when activated, grooming, networking, indecent image sharing). Is more specialist monitoring of SNS possible? Sentencing implications –Future research must test these findings and explore further link between image collection, online grooming and contact abuse

41 Working with Offenders Consider implications for risk assessment –validated static and dynamic risk measures for online groomers –explore potential use of digital media with all sex offenders? Need for practitioners to understand digital media to work effectively with internet sexual offenders Treatment implications for online groomers –a different group of sexual offenders? –consider role of the Internet and disinhibition in facilitating online abuse

42 Working with Young People: 1 Further investigation of vulnerable children/young people and match of offender to victim Understanding impact of even low level internet contact by strangers will help improve preventative work More understanding of child resilience needed, psychological, social, familial factors

43 Working with Young People: 2 More awareness for professionals working with vulnerable children (e.g. those in care) to identify and reduce online risk Targeted prevention messages / campaigns for different types of vulnerability (boys, girls, looked after children and so on) Campaigns with young people, parents and educators across Europe to raise awareness about the characteristics and style of online groomers

44 Panel Discussion: Implications and Moving Forward

45 Further Information Websites: /sip/index_en.htm /sip/index_en.htm

46 Staying in touch Project Contacts: Remember to hashtag the European Online Grooming Project #EOGP

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