It comes as no surprise that children spend more time on the internet now than they ever have before. Whether that means watching videos on YouTube, playing video games or using social media like TikTok and snapchat. While the internet can be a valuable resource, especially in the part it plays in educational development of children, as high as 80% of children in 25 countries have reported feeling unsafe due to sexual abuse or exploitation online. (UNICEF, 2022)
Some of the dangers that children face while using the internet range from cyberbullying, being exposed to sexual content at a young age, being contacted by adults and persuaded to send images of themselves – inappropriate or otherwise, and grooming which can lead to a host of other child sexual exploitations. These incidents occur both on a local and global level.
Educating the public on helping children stay safe while online, and bringing awareness to the reality of these incidents to children, is an important task that is undertaken by the Protective Services of the RCIPS.
RCIPS Detectives, whose role it is to investigate such occurrences have been attending our local high schools and speaking with students about how they can stay safe while online and providing them with information about how to speak up if they have been subjected to this type of behaviour. The legislation that covers online offenses has also been discussed and the consequences explained, regarding those who may fall victim due to poor decisions whilst online, as well as those children who may be committing offences using online tools.
In the Cayman Islands, there have been numerous reports of sexting amongst young people, where they share sexual, naked or semi-naked images of themselves. Besides embarrassment, the consequences of these activities are that criminal offenses have been committed, including harassment, alarm and distress, blackmail and even child pornography.
Parents and guardians are strongly advised to take an interest in what their children are doing online. Ask question about the apps they use and monitor the amount of time they spend online. One suggestion to implement in the home is requiring children to hand over their devices before turning in for the night. The information in the brochure below provides guidance on apps that parents can use to track what their children are doing and also restrict certain activities or access to certain sites.
The Penal Code was revised in last year, and below are just two of the laws that are included to protect children, both of which carry sentencing of either six years or 15 years in prison, which will affect the offender’s criminal record.
228A - Child pornography
A person who —
has in that person’s possession an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child;
takes, permits to be taken or makes an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child; or
distributes or shows an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child,
commits an offence.
228E - Sexual communication with a child.
Where a person, being eighteen years or older, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification —
knowingly engages in communication of a sexual nature with a child under the age of sixteen years; or
encourages a child under the age of sixteen years to make or engage in a communication that is sexual or relates to a sexual activity, that person commits an offence.
The RCIPS Protective Services encourages you to call 649-6000 for more information or to make a report, if you or your child have been experiencing these issues.
Online Safety Brochure