Concerns over online grooming

Social workers struggle to spot the warning signs that a child is being targeted for online sex abuse and need more support to help combat the problem, new research has revealed.

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Workers 'need to be equipped' to tackle online abuse

Cases of online grooming is on the rise, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said today, after a new survey revealed that social workers felt concerned about dealing with online sexual abuse.

BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said:

The number of cases in which the internet plays a part in the grooming and abuse of children is rising, and social workers need to be equipped to recognise the warning signs.

Social work educators and employers must keep pace with new technology, and training on the risks posed by social media should be an intrinsic part of learning.

NSPCC: Workers need a 'basic grasp of technology'

Children's charity NSPCC has said it has developed an online training guide for child protection professionals - backed by the British Association of Social Workers BASW - to educate social about the risks the internet posed to children.

NSPCC creates new training guide for social workers to tackle online grooming. Credit: Adam Peck/PA

A new survey of social workers revealed that half of them felt concerned about dealing with online sexual abuse or behaviour.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "Keeping children safe from sexual abuse increasingly means protecting them from offenders who use technology to target their victims, such as grooming in chatrooms or online social networks.

"It's worrying that the majority of social workers surveyed by BASW are struggling to understand how online child abuse happens.

"We know they are doing a tough job under pressure and shouldn't need to be technology experts but they do need to have a grasp of the basics".

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Social workers 'failing to see online abuse signs'

Many social workers lack confidence and know-how when it comes to dealing with online grooming and sexual abuse of children, a survey has suggested.

The survey found:

  • 50% said they do not know how to recognise the signs of online sexual abuse of children.
  • 36% felt they did not know the right questions to ask to identify and assess online sexual abuse.
  • Almost half (49%) said a quarter of their sexual abuse cases now involve some form of online abuse.
  • 30% said they did not feel confident dealing with child protection sexual abuse cases using the internet.
  • A third (34%) of social workers surveyed said they do not feel confident about understanding the language used by young people online.
  • 47% said they were not knowledgeable about how young people communicate via social networking sites.

Social workers 'struggle to spot' online grooming signs

Social workers struggle to spot the warning signs that a child is being targeted for online sex abuse and need more support to help combat the problem, new research has revealed.

Social workers struggle to spot that a child is being targeted for online sex abuse. Credit: ITV News

A survey of social workers revealed that half of them felt concerned about dealing with online sexual abuse or behaviour, while more than two thirds of social workers felt they needed more support with child protection cases involving online abuse.

The survey, carried out by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and children's charity the NSPCC, questioned 327 social workers online in May about their experiences.

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