Gangs of child abusers use Facebook and other social networking sites to search the ‘menus’ of potential victims and plan sickening sex parties, a devastating report warns.
Naive young people are ‘wandering round’ in the ‘thicket’ of the Internet, which plays a central role in grooming and planning abuse.
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Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, claimed groups of men use ‘menus of girls’ and warned that it was ‘rare’ to find abuse cases where technology such as mobile phones and computers were not in some way connected.
This includes encouraging girls to swap sexually explicit images on mobiles, adults grooming children on social networking sites such as Facebook, and the viewing of extreme or violent pornography and discussing it during sexual assaults.
Children groomed online are taken to ‘parties’, where they are drugged or plied with alcohol “so that they did not know what was happening to them,” the study found.
‘This made it impossible for them to identify the perpetrators.’
The interim report found that 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011. A further 16,500 children were at 'high risk' of sexual exploitation between April 2010 and March 2011.
In one abuse network, 2,900 vulnerable children were connected to the main perpetrator who used social networking sites to maintain contact with potential victims.