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Internet pornography

January 2014

More internet service providers (ISPs) have stated they will block pornography for new customers, whether they like it or not.

Two providers have already instated this policy and two more are set to launch filters this month, but social policy charity CARE said the government must do more to encourage all mobile phone operators and ISPs to follow suit.

Nola Leach, chief executive of CARE, said the government must ‘compel’ providers to block child abuse and pornographic sites: ‘Children deserve the highest protection possible from abusive and obscene imagery, so it is great to see progress in this area.

‘ It is right that public Wi-Fi does not give children access to pornography; it is right that parents are empowered to make decisions to keep their children safe using filters; and it is also right that ISPs invest in educational tools to help parents understand their options’.

She said, ‘We are backing Baroness Howe’s Online Safety Bill and the strengthening of protection measures by law’.

Her comments came less than a month after a high-profile sting, involving a computer simulated child called ‘Sweetie’, trapped 20,000 potential male offenders.

Dutch children’s charity Terre des Hommes carried out the 10-week sting near Amsterdam, posing on video chat rooms as a 10-year-old Filipina girl. Some 20,000 men contacted her, with 1000 offering her money. Their names — including 110 Britons — were passed to police.

Child abuse

The children of fervent Christians could be at greater risk of abuse, a new report has claimed.

The report, published by the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, claimed that children within institutions such as churches are no less at risk from abuse than are other children.

The 32-page report, The foundations of abuse, warned that offenders often groom their victims into believing the attention they show them is an ‘honour’, making it harder for them to report the abuse.

It also claimed that management structures in churches and elsewhere can make it easier for offenders to abuse children in their care by discouraging junior staff and members from reporting their suspicions. Commenting on the findings, a statement from the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) said this could also be because parents are more prone to obeying church leaders without question.

Simon Bass, chief executive of CCPAS, said, ‘It sounds harsh to suggest that the children of strongly committed Christian parents are more at risk of being abused. However, this is not only true but stems largely from the fact that they tend to buy in to the culture of their local church wholeheartedly.

‘When, as is sometimes the case, those churches develop rigid, hierarchical governance structures, with pronounced power differentials, huge gaps may develop between senior personnel such as clergy and elders and ordinary churchgoers in the pew’.

He warned that this could lead some unscrupulous church leaders to exploit the respect and often unquestioning obedience they receive from their more committed members.

The report provided 18 case studies, six of which related to abuse within faith environments, with five of those six abusive leaders specifically targeting the children of the more devout.

CCPAS warned that those Christians most involved in church activities must always keep a sharp eye on their children and make sure they are safe at all times. If they have any suspicions, they should report them and ensure they are investigated fully and properly.