We are living in an era where there is constant development as far as technology is concerned. The main avenue of children exploitation that is propagated by technology is the internet. Sexual exploitation of children involves unfair situations, settings and relationships where the young person receives something like alcohol, food, accommodation, affection, drugs and money as a result of performing, and/or others acting on them, sexually (Appleton, 2014). The internet offers several venues where persons under the age of 18 can easily have access to social media accounts where they meet individuals who exploit them. Child sexual exploit is a hidden crime where the young children trust their abusers and in most cases are not aware they are being abused. In a majority of the cases, the abused child is always scared of reporting the case. Technology has been used to exploit children sexually in different ways. The first way is through social media and the posting of nude pictures. The social media is a spacious place where sexual offenders can flourish. The use of Facebook inbox to send and receive nude photos, the messenger, private Twitter chat, Whatsapp messenger app, Gmail, and Instagram are all avenues that promote children sexual exploitation.
In most cases of exploitation, the child is always made to feel loved and like they are in a legal relationship with the abuser. The abuser has an advantage over the child regarding finance, knowledge, age or physical appearance. In all the sexual exploitation cases the abuser always promises something in return. For example, they promise to give gifts, money or a picture in return if the child sends them a nude photo. Of course, a child below the age of 18 cannot make independent decisions and can easily be influenced by an older person. Another way that children are exploited through the internet is through promises and payment to take part in sexual activities. It is not always the case for sexual exploitation to take place physically it can be online. Children are asked to expose their bodies on live webcam as the abuser watches and promise to pay them.
The mobile phone, in general, is another technological advancement that has had a role in acting as a catalyst of children being sexual assaulted. The cell phone has made it possible for people to communicate and children as young as 15 own the mobile phones. Sexual offenders have taken advantage of the situation by asking for the children's mobile number and spreading them to different group chats. Such group chats open a venue for children to be involved in adult parties where they have access to alcohol, drugs and can easily be lured into sexual activities. Sexual exploitation can have a devastating effect on the abused child. The abusers often use different methods to coerce the victims into the sexual activities. Some of the methods employed include blackmail, debt payoffs, physical force, mental manipulation, false promises like modeling careers and payment. In conclusion, technology has increased the rate at which offenders sexually exploit children. It is because of the privacy that technology offers that the criminals find it easier to sexually exploit children. Through technology sexual offenders can always delete evidence, save nude photos, record sexual video and easily access the minors.
Appleton, J. V. (May 01, 2014). Child Sexual Exploitation, Victimisation, and Vulnerability. Child Abuse Review, 23, 3, 155-158.
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