ICT Related Violence For Children

In 2016, a group of young journalists set out to draw attention to some of the information and technology related issues against children through a campaign backed by UNICEF. Their objective was clear: Catch on tape sexual predators who use chat apps to groom children and show how vulnerable children are to perpetrators exploiting digital technology to sexually abuse children. The group’s videos went viral, with over 3.7 million views in just over six months, starting a public debate and movement calling for stronger legislation.

Even if the number of children suffering severe harm is probably not that high, when harm does occur, according to one review of evidence in this area, its impact on the child can be very significant and justifies substantial resources and attention.

To better understand the impact of such violence on children, let us look at the case of Amanda Todd. She was just 13 when a man she met in a video chat room convinced her to expose her breasts on camera. He captured the image and used it to blackmail her, threatening to send the image to her friends and family. She ignored the threat and over the next two years was subject to bullying (both online and offline), harassment and physical assault. Despite her efforts to escape the torment – she moved both schools and cities – the attacks continued, both by the online offender and by her classmates. During this time, she struggled with depression, drug and alcohol abuse, isolation, loneliness and self-harm. Two years later, in October 2012, at 15, Amanda died by suicide.

As numerous cases over the years have demonstrated, severe harm can manifest itself as much as in mental distress as in real physical injuries, including self-harm and suicide.

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