New research summaries of the European Online Grooming Project

27 Nov 2012 UK SIC

The UKCCIS Evidence Group has today launched two new Research Highlights, which summarise the findings from The European Online Grooming Project. This project sought to describe the behaviour of both offenders who groom and young people who are ‘groomed’, with the two phases of the project summarised in two reports:

To understand grooming from a youth perspective, the European Online Grooming Project ran twelve focus groups across the UK, Italy and Belgium with young people age 11-16 years. They found that young people differ in their awareness of and response to risky online situations. There were multiple responses to how they would respond to an approach from a stranger:

“consistent blocking of messages or ignoring inappropriate requests”

“keeping strangers phone numbers and continuing to chat online until things seem suspicious”

“In schools where there had been no safety awareness training, some young people (particularly those from the ‘vocational’ education stream) talked about meeting someone under particular circumstances. For example, if they were attractive.”

What stops young people from telling someone?

A common feature across boys and girls accounts was that they dealt with things alone. Boys in particular tended to be more resistant to the idea of telling anyone about inappropriate online approaches, girls tended to tell a friend. There was some resistance to telling parents or carers, influenced by a fear that their computer privileges would be removed. 

What can the research tell us about how to deliver educational messages?

The focus groups found that young people in the UK responded better to training providers who they could relate to, ie people who like Facebook. “There was a sense that some parents were fearful of Facebook, and so some young people were sceptical about the advice the parent gave. Therefore an open and balanced delivery does seem to influence the credibility of the message.”

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