USA, July 9, 2013: AVG Technologies today launched the findings of its research report with Plymouth University entitled Parents, Schools and the Digital Divide. As parents struggle to keep pace with technology, 86% agree an online safety assessment would identify knowledge gaps and enable parents to better educate children about staying safe online. The findings of the report with 2,000 UK parents reinforces the importance placed on online safety with more than half (52%) of all parents making school selection decisions based in part on a school’s ability to teach online safety. Of that number, more than one in ten (13%) said online safety credentials would be “the” deciding factor if selecting a new school now. Tony Anscombe, AVG’s senior security evangelist, comments: “Despite their confidence, our research shows that parents clearly need help to stay ahead of how children are using the internet. We’re calling on the government and forward-thinking schools to support our recommendation and develop an easy to use assessment for parents, effectively extending e-safety training to parents. Just as parents agree to an internet usage policy with a child’s school, parents should be tasked with truly understanding what they’re signing up to and how their children are actually using the internet, both at home and in the school.”
USA, July 10, 2013: The new Bing for Schools initiative is aimed at helping teach digital literacy skills to kids (no kids, that doesn’t mean Angry Birds hints), writes Cool Mom Tech. Starting this coming fall, schools in the US will be able to tailor their Bing experience specifically for K-12 students. This means no advertisements in search results which we really support, plus there will be enhanced privacy protection and the filtering of adult content of course. How cool is that? Also, they’ll be adding special learning tools to help teachers provide instruction on Internet usage since we all know we adults are barely ahead of our digital native kids. Because this initiative is in its early stages, if you want to express your interest you can share your email; then Bing will contact you with registration information.
EU, July 10, 2013: The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child wants the Vatican to provide information about all the crimes committed by the clergy against minors. The request is published on the official website of the committee. In addition, the committee asked the Vatican to clarify the cases when church authorities tried to cover up the actions of paedophiles and indicate what measures had been taken to protect children from sexual predators in church robes. The committee also wondered what measures were in effect to avoid discrimination in parochial schools. To crown it all, church official want to know if textbooks still contain articles that demean the rights of children born out of wedlock and instil intersexual stereotypes. Such articles, committee officials believe, should be withdrawn from textbooks. In spite of the fact that the Vatican is not included in the UN, it is obliged to submit a report on compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child every five years. However, the Vatican has been allegedly shrugging this obligation for years already.
Australia, July 11, 2013: Vengeful Queensland children are being charged with producing child sex images that are being shared by paedophile networks around the world. Taskforce Argos, set up to smash child sex rings, say the photographs are placing a burden on police who have to sift through hundreds of thousands of images each year to determine whether children can be identified and rescued. Police say the practice is not sexting and is more sinister. More than 500 Queensland children under the age of 17 years have been charged in the past five years for producing or accessing child exploitation material. And it’s not just a crime being committed by boys. Of the 542 charged, 147 were girls.
UK, July 11, 2013: A survey of 2,000 UK parents highlights growing concerns about children’s online safety, with 95% of respondents agreeing that ‘e-safety’ should be a compulsory element of school education. 52% of all parents said that they had made school selection decisions based in part on a school’s ability to teach online safety. However, almost two thirds (66%) of parents accept that ultimately the responsibility of educating their children and keeping them safe when surfing the web rests with them. And therein lies a problem. Although 92% of parents claim they’re confident in their ability to teach online safety, the study, commissioned by AVG Technologies as part of the research report “Parents, Schools and the Digital Divide” in partnership with Plymouth University in the UK, found that there is a widening gap between parents’ perceived and actual knowledge when it comes to the web. The study shows that this knowledge gap is having an impact on parents’ decision-making processes when considering whether or not to discuss certain subjects with their children in relation to the internet. For example, 56% of parents with children in primary or secondary school (ie aged between seven and 16 years old) and 42% of parents with teenaged children have not broached the subject of sexual online adult content. In terms of other risks or threats, 89% of parents with children in primary or secondary school said they believe their child has not been involved in either cyberbullying or sexting. Considering these responses, it comes as little surprise that 86% of parents said that they would welcome an online safety assessment to help them close this knowledge gap. AVG and the University of Plymouth will be detailing the full extent of their findings at the Child Internet Safety Summit on July 11 and will also be detailing recommendations for government-supported internet safety schemes.
Ireland, July 11, 2013: A Government report is to recommend that cyberbullying be made a criminal offence following a number of teenage suicides apparently linked to the problem. It will also propose new laws to compel all schools to introduce disciplinary codes to tackle the misuse of social media. The proposals are in the annual report of the Government’s special rapporteur on child protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon. It is expected to be published this week. It states that there are few criminal prosecutions of reported harassment involving social networking, email or text messages. “When cyberbullying is being described as an epidemic, we need to examine why this is the case,” the report says. “Specifically, is there reticence to investigate complaints of cyberbullying?” It recommends amending existing laws used to combat reassessment – the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act – to provide for a specific offences of cyberbullying. The report also states that homophobic bullying in schools should be classified as a child protection issue. This would require schools to address these issues and report them to social services, if necessary. It says there is scope for uniform disciplinary measures across schools to tackle the problem, as “schools have too much latitude to determine how to discipline students engaged in bullying”. Social media companies such as Facebook should also be encouraged to share the details of anyone engaged in anonymous cyberbullying.
Gibraltar, July 12, 2013: A recent survey conducted by the RGP’S Crime and Protective Services provided results so shocking that even the police found it hard to conceal their concerns. One out of six children surveyed between the ages of 10 to 14 admitted having chattered with strangers online. The survey, which included a total of 1,000 young respondents, also revealed that children conceal passwords to social media sites, keeping them away from the beady-eyes of their parents. Other disturbing facts in the police study included kids cleverly concealing their online behaviour by using abbreviated language most parents would find hard understand. The survey also highlighted young kids having the freedom to go online for hours on end with no supervision. One child even admitted pretending to be a 20 year old adult online. Just as alarming were the 300-odd children who said they sent photos and videos over the internet. This was an excellent initiative by the police, who themselves launched their ‘Surf Safe’ campaign in February aimed at keeping internet users safe online while using social network sites, shopping or browsing. The campaign is accompanied by a booklet which contains information on shopping online, children using the internet, social networking sites, chat rooms, cyber bullying and a “dictionary” of various text speak or anagrams used online.
UK, July 12, 2013: Over 300 industry representatives, politicians, media and government officials attended the ceremony at Park Lane Hotel in London, hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), the UK’s Trade Association for providers of internet services. Broadband remains the cheapest utility for households, and ISPAs claims to showcase the strength, variety and competitiveness of the internet industry in the UK. The awards given out covered the entire spread of the internet sector, from consumer and b2b services to hosting, safety and inclusion. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had been nominated for Internet Hero of the year for openly stating there wouldn’t be a Communications Data Bill under his watch, but was beaten by fellow Lib Dem Julian Huppert, who was, the ISPA council felt, “one of the few MPs to understand the internet”. Edward Snowden was also nominated, who blew the whistle on the US government’s PRISM surveillance programme requiring internet companies to hand over details of their users without consent. Now in exile, he faces prosecution back in America. KC improved on last year’s commendation to be named the overall winner of the Internet Safety & Security Award. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) was commended for the role in making the internet a safer place. New for this year, the Best Superfast Award went to Hyperoptic, a company who have grown hugely since winning Best New ISP at the 2012 ISPAs. Kent Wimax provider VFast took home Best Fixed Wireless, reflecting the growth of this innovative new services. ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said: “ISPA would like to congratulate all the winners and thank all the attendees, judges and sponsors for making the evening possible. It’s been a crucial year for the internet industry in the UK and the 15th Awards show the sheer diversity and innovation in a very successful part of British industry.”
Australia, July 12, 2013: The final phase of the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum, involving lessons about internet safety and social media use, is now in play. The curriculum, which was introduced to younger students first, is now available for all Queensland students from Prep to Year 9. Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said the curriculum uptake was gaining momentum across all school sectors. He said child safety ambassadors Bruce and Denise Morcombe had visited more than 240 schools – delivering their important message to more than 30,000 students at 109 schools in the past year alone. “No school has been too small or too far away for the dedicated Morcombes,” he said. Mr Morcombe said he was proud to see Daniel’s legacy “making a significant difference to children’s safety in Queensland.” Mrs Morcombe said she hoped to see the curriculum implemented in all Queensland schools and others interstate. “We are honoured that the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum has been created in memory of our son,” she said. “The lessons are about safety, not only around the home and school, but also online safety and everyday challenges that will teach life skills to all children. Children will learn it is okay to say no and to tell an adult from their safety network if they think something is wrong or doesn’t feel right.” Daniel was 13 when he was abducted while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast and later murdered.
Australia, July 15, 2013: In a bid to influence policy and inform recent public debate, and hard on the heels of arrests relating to sexting incidents in Victoria, researchers at the University of Sydney’s Institute of Criminology are asking Australian teenagers to share their views on sexting. Their online survey is seeking the real story behind sexting as young people face the risk of being prosecuted for serious offences. It asks teenagers to anonymously provide details of their social networking habits, share their perceptions of sexting and outline their own experiences. The survey is a key part of Sexting and Young People, funded by the Australian Institute of Criminology. The Institute will publish findings from the survey, which will also help Dr Lee and his team understand the sexting practices and perceptions of young Australians. “We encourage Australians aged 13 to 18 to fill in the online survey and have their say on the topic,” says Associate Professor Lee.
USA, July 15, 2013: Two hundred and fifty-five child predators were arrested and 61 victims of child sexual exploitation identified during a five-week operation conducted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces across the United States and its territories. Operation iGuardian, which ran May 28 to June 30, was a surge operation conducted as part of HSI’s Operation Predator to identify and rescue victims of online sexual exploitation, and to arrest their abusers as well as others who own, trade and produce images of child pornography. According to investigators, a “disturbing trend” is emerging in which child predators are increasingly using the internet to entice children to produce and share sexually explicit material online. During Operation iGuardian, HSI and ICAC investigators encountered various child predators chatting online with minors about sexual topics, sending them obscene images, encouraging them to produce nude or sexual photos and videos, and attempting to meet them in person to engage in sexual activity. In some cases, child predators are also sexually extorting, or “sextorting,” the minors into producing additional and increasingly graphic images and videos. Twenty-four of the 61 victims identified during the Operation iGuardian were engaging online with strangers who sexually exploited them. Of the 255 child predators arrested during Operation iGuardian, 20 were charged with online sexual enticement of a minor, two of which escalated to sextortion of multiple victims. The other 235 were charged with child pornography production, possession and distribution of child pornography; traveling with the intent to have sex with a minor; and various other offenses, including rape and molestation. Of the 255 arrested, 251 were men and 4 were women.
UK, July 18, 2013: Sussex Police is urging parents to check who their children are speaking to online after a number of reports of children being persuaded to send indecent images of themselves to people. Officers have been contacted by parents concerned that children in West Sussex using the social messaging system Kik have been approached by people posing as older teenagers. The children have then been encouraged to take indecent images of themselves and to send them to the people they have been befriended by. They have also been asked to meet those who have contacted them. Officers are investigating the incidents as potential cases of child grooming.