'Being groomed online at 13 had horrific impact on my life'

The NSPCC has warned of more than 100 instances of child abuse per month if a crucial bill is delayed further.

NSPCC warns of more than 100 monthly online sex crimes against children amid Online Safety Bill delays iStock

A survivor of grooming has spoken out amid claims that more than 100 online sex crimes will take place every month against Scottish children until a new Prime Minister is elected.

Frida, whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity, began to experience sexual abuse at the age of 13.

Ten years later, she is still affected in her day-to-day life by the “sickening” experience of being groomed from a young age.

“The abuse that I experienced started ten years ago when I was 13. It is sickening that since then the number of young people being abused online has grown dramatically”, Frida said.

She continued: “Being groomed has had a horrific impact on my life and I want no other young person to endure that.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has said that more than 100 sex crimes will affect Scottish children every month the Online Safety Bill is delayed.

The charity’s analysis of Police Scotland crime data found that online child sexual abuse offences had more than doubled over the last decade.

The data shows 1,298 Indecent Image offences and crimes of Communicating Indecently with a Child were logged in the year to March, 2022 – up from 543 just ten years ago.

Frida said: “I know this delay to the Online Safety Bill will see more young people like me experience harm when it could have been prevented, and that is devastating.”

The bill was due to pass through the House of Commons last week, but was postponed until at least the autumn when a new Prime Minister will be in place.

The NSPCC said the growth in crimes and the scale of abuse taking place against children should serve as a “wake-up call” for the next Prime Minister to make the bill a national priority.

It warned the disturbing reality of delay is more children being groomed on their smartphones and tablets, being contacted by offenders in the summer holidays, and coerced into acts of online sexual abuse in their bedrooms.

The legislation would put a duty of care on companies for their users and mean they would have to put measures in place to prevent and disrupt child abuse on their sites. protecting children from harm.

NSPCC chief executive, Sir Peter Wanless, said: “With every second the clock ticks by on the Online Safety Bill an ever-growing number of children and families face the unimaginable trauma of preventable child abuse.

“The need for legislation to protect children is clear, commands overwhelming support from MPs and the public and builds on the UK’s global leadership position in tackling harm online. Robust regulation can be delivered while protecting freedom of speech and privacy.

“There can be no more important mission for Government than to keep children safe from abuse and the next Prime Minister must keep the promise made to families in the election manifesto and deliver the Online Safety Bill as a national priority.”

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