Sex offenders are increasingly using live online streaming platforms to exploit children, police have warned.

Children need to be educated on the risks associated with streaming sites, the National Crime Agency said.

It said offenders were learning how young people communicated online and “using this knowledge to abuse them”.

In one week, authorities identified 345 vulnerable children and arrested 192 people, 30% involving streaming, blackmail and grooming.

Online security

Social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all allow some form of live capability, while there are also many pure live streaming services, including Periscope, Omegle, Liveme and Lively.

Police say abusers thrive on the immediacy these live platforms offer – targeting children with tricks, dares and threats to manipulate them into nudity or sexual acts.

They called for help from parents and internet companies to help manage the evolving threat children face online.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Child Protection Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “We need parents and carers to talk to their children about healthy relationships and staying safe online.

“We need internet companies to help us stop access to sexual abuse images and videos and prevent abuse happening on their platforms.”

An NCA survey found that while 84% of the 927 people who responded said they were alert to the potential dangers their children faced online, more than 30% had not spoken to their children about online safety in the last month. Almost 58% were not sure if they had adequate online security.

– BBC News

Read more: Child Exploitation: Live Streaming an ‘Urgent’ Threat

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