December 27, 2019

HJ Talks About Abuse: Online Sexual Abuse

We have covered in previous podcasts the prevalence of online sexual abuse. We make no apologies for returning to this unpleasant subject which has been in the news again.

A paedophile couple who filmed themselves sexually abusing children, including a baby, have been jailed for a total of 21 years.

Mark Gable, 33, was arrested after police officers found a video of him sexually assaulting a baby during a search of his home.

A number of other images and videos were discovered which also showed Gable, sexually assaulting children.

Through their investigations, the police discovered that Gable’s girlfriend, Jessica Fry, had filmed the initial video as well as a number of the other images and videos.

There is tragically a trade in the sharing and publication of images and videos showing children being abused. No doubt money as well as the sexual interest in children are motivators.

Understandably all right minded people are appalled by such behaviour, but there is a general lack of awareness as to the law and how it can easily be broken.

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast “The Boy in the Video”, produced and presented by Lucy Proctor.

The story starts with an everyday event - a WhatsApp message to a group set up by mums at the school gates to discuss missing jumpers and school trips.

But this message contains a video of a little boy being sexually abused. And one of the group members happens to be a BBC radio producer.

So begins an investigation into the dark world of child sexual exploitation as Lucy tries to find out what happened to the boy. Has he been rescued? Is his abuser in jail?

Along the way Lucy meets the police trying to combat the online proliferation of images and videos of children being abused - millions are in circulation, shared on social media platforms as if they are funny cat memes. She asks what we should do about the 450 men arrested every month for viewing and sharing this material? At the moment, end-to-end encryption means WhatsApp is a safe haven for offenders - but are the tech firms doing enough?

In the programme Alan Collins – partner at Hugh James explains that there is a lack of understanding, and people can easily not appreciate that “private” images may not remain that way.

It should also be stressed that “online” abuse is not victim free. We have suggested that the law needs to be beefed-up to reflect the reality that someone at home viewing a child being abused is just as guilty as the person in the room committing the physical aspect of the abuse.

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