'Authorities playing catch-up' with tech used to abuse children

Child victims of online sexual abuse are not getting the support they need because "authorities playing catch-up" with the technology, experts have found.

NSPCC: Online training 'an absolute must'

Training for education, healthcare and children protection workers in technology used to abuse children online is "an absolute must", the NSPCC have said.

Jon Brown, the NSPCC lead on tackling sexual abuse, added:

Training to protect children from online abuse is an absolute must for those in social work, health, education and law.

It won't necessarily make them experts but will help them stay in touch with a rapidly changing technological world which poses a variety of risks for the young.

– Jon Brown NSPCC

'81% of carers' for abused children not trained in online

The overwhelming majority of professionals who care for abused children admit they have had no training in how to help children recover from the online element, a survey revealed.

A poll of 692 school nurses, health visitors, paediatricians, social workers, child protection advisers, family and education welfare officers, teachers and learning support assistants also found:

  • Of the 81% who said they had not been trained in how to help children recover from the online element of their abuse, 94% added they wanted that training.
  • 70% of those stated they had not received training in online risk assessment.
  • 95.5% saying they would value such training.

Read more: Carers for child abuse victims 'not trained' for online

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Carers for child abuse victims 'not trained' for online

Professionals looking after child abuse victims cannot properly support them because they are not trained to understand the technology used by perpetrators, academics have found.

Read more: 17 Brits held over 'child abuse streamed live from Philippines'

Online abuse
Carers looking after vulnerable children need more training in technology, a study found. Credit: PA

A group of University researchers revealed a black hole in the knowledge of education, health and children's services staff, as they cannot keep up with the online technology used to abuse children.

The study, carried out by researchers at Plymouth University and University Campus Suffolk for victims' charity Marie Collins Foundation, found pedophiles have become more ingenious in their use of technology to engage with vulnerable children.

However, the training available to professionals has not kept up.

Andy Phippen, professor at Plymouth University, said: "The fast pace of its development has in many cases left the authorities playing catch-up and while some now have policies in place, a huge amount of work is required to ensure those affected by online abuse receive the correct support."

Read more: Google to block abuse images