13 February, 2014
The sexual exploitation of gay and lesbian teenagers is being tackled for the first time by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
A re-launch of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) command’s Thinkuknow educational programme will, from today (Thursday), include online safety advice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) under 18s as well as those using the internet to explore their sexuality or gender.
Jonathan Baggaley, head of education at the NCA’s CEOP command, said:
“We know that any child is at risk from being sexually exploited online. But for the young LGBT community, the internet can feel a very different place.
“Some may have very mixed emotions about their sexuality or gender, and use the anonymity of the internet or mobile apps to chat to strangers online. This not only helps them explore what they might be feeling but allows them to keep their secrets with people they don’t know.
“This can be dangerous as some adults will seek to exploit that vulnerability. Keeping the young person’s secret can be used by abusers to sexually exploit their victim, and very often children won’t realise they’re being targeted.
“We realise this is the first time we’ve tackled these issues, and as more research is uncovered in this area then no doubt the Thinkuknow pages will expand.”
The information on the new LGBT pages has been written with assistance from lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Young Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland.
Luke Tryl, head of education at the charity Stonewall, which this week launched new practical advice for teachers and parents to help lesbian, gay and bisexual young people avoid online abuse, said he was "delighted" the NCA had launched this guidance.
The Thinkuknow website has also been revamped to now focus on social media and instant mobile communication as well as the effects of adult pornography on sex and relationships for those aged 11 to 16. The advice is also being split between 11-13 year olds and 14 year olds and above.
The information focuses more on real-life situations and attempts to recreate what is going on in the online world of young people. It adopts language used by the older age group by tackling issues such as “selfies – the naked truth”, “cam sex” and “paedos, creeps and weirdos”.
Other changes to the Thinkuknow site include support for those who are worried a friend is being abused and the inclusion of information about the dangers of children viewing adult pornography.
Jonathan Baggaley said:
“The re-launch of the Thinkuknow pages is a chance for us to move away from generic internet safety messages and instead focus meaningfully on education about sex, relationships and the internet.
“Research has shown that while young people have strong sexual feelings they need candid and direct discussions about sex and how some adults will inappropriately try to draw them into sexual chats.”
To access the Thinkuknow pages visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk. From there you can find lots of advice and support about online safety as well as report incidents of child sexual exploitation using the Click CEOP button in the online safety centre.