When you have over 4,000 people coming together to work towards banishing child abuse, a number of strong themes are bound to emerge. At this year’s Crimes Against Children conference in Dallas, the V-word was the dominant theme above all the rest - Volume.
In July 2016, a 15-year-old girl received a seemingly innocent Facebook message from a 28-year-old man she didn’t know. That simple “Hey, how are you?” led to her spending the night at the man’s house only 13 days later. She was held against her will and after trying to escape, was killed.
As new threats develop, we learn how to defend ourselves against them, and then we teach our children to do the same. This has been the same over generations, across continents and even throughout species for millions of years and failure to adapt and evolve to deal with new dangers leads to extinction.
We teach children how to cross the road, not to take sweets from strangers, and even how to react in the event of a fire – so why are we dragging our feet when it comes to protecting kids from the biggest new threat of the 21st century – the internet?
Over the last couple of years there have been some huge PR crises for a number of major kids’ entertainment providers and social networks. Some of these PR disasters were so damaging that they led to the downfall of a number of businesses – businesses which up until that point had been highly successful. The main issue that led to their untimely demise was inadequate protection of their customers (or users whichever you prefer) from issues like cyber-bulling, trolling and sexual predators. Something as relatively harmless as SPAM also played its part in having a damaging affect on their essential advertising revenue due to lack of effective content moderation.
Here at Crisp Thinking we believe that children should be shielded from inappropriate material – that’s why we’re so proud of our online moderation services. But whether it's on a computer screen or a piece of paper, we should all try to preserve the innocent minds of today’s children - children who already seem to be growing up far too quickly!
It was nice to see in the news this week that our view is apparently widely supported. The issue made headlines as Co-op gave an ultimatum to the creators of lads’ mags. They warned that if the magazines didn’t start covering up their covers, they would no longer be sold in about 4,000 shops across the country.
With the scary revelation that less than half of social workers know how to spot or deal with signs of online child abuse and the number of cases rising, it’s more important than ever for online communities to take responsibility and protect their young users from potential threats.
The majority of cases remain undiscovered until damage has already been done, but a preventative course of action must be taken by detecting suspicious behaviour before a situation escalates.
As the Daily Mail rightly reports the ‘fury as child abuse picture goes viral on Facebook with 16,000 ‘shares’ and 4,000 ‘likes”, we still see too little focus on strong moderation as a brand protection solution. Whilst it’s the most extreme forms of pornography which continue to make headlines, unregulated spam content of many kinds can be damaging to brands.