Technology can help keep people safe. But abusers can also use technology to cause harm.
People that draw on our support may find themselves in situations where technology is used in a way that can have a drastic negative impact. This can be via a wide range of means, from phishing emails and instant messaging services to social media and everything in between.
Some of the ways technology and the internet can be used for harm:
- Fraud: intentional deception for financial gain
- Bullying/Trolling: deliberately sending nasty messages with the intent of making someone feel upset, angry or inciting them to cause harm to themselves or others
- Grooming: where someone befriends a young and/or vulnerable person under the pretence of being someone else, with the intention of taking advantage of the victim
- Online Vigilante Groups: these groups pretend to be a young person and lure people into incriminating themselves and post the footage online which can cause severe backlash
People may send messages pretending to be someone you know in an emergency situation and ask for money. Or they may send you emails/messages pretending to be your bank or the Government, which has a link that will ask for your bank account details/to pay for something.
People can send very nasty messages via online platforms and messaging applications. This can be very distressing for the person receiving the messages.
In extreme cases it has been known for the sender to incite violence towards others or even self-harm.
It is also important we help the people that draw on our support to understand that their words can cause distress to others.
Online grooming cases have risen drastically over the last 3 years. Children, teenagers and vulnerable people are at high-risk of being targeted and widespread use and availability of the internet has made it easier for this to happen as well as making it harder for it to be detected. The NSPCC have some really good information about grooming of children, however the principles can be relevant to all vulnerable groups of people.
Online Vigilante Groups
Typically they pose as children or teenagers online to lure in potential paedophiles. Whilst the premise behind actions of those groups are in line with views that sexual abusers should be brought to justice, posting videos online to expose someone can have serious implications.
A person can be wrongly accused, or may not have the capacity to understand the ramifications of their words and actions, which they believe to be innocent and friendly.
The backlash from this can cause serious physical and/or emotional harm to the person that has fallen into the “trap”.
Criminal law does not directly outlaw vigilantism, but that does not mean these groups are above the law. These groups often physically confront the alleged offenders and have been known to kidnap, falsely imprison or assault people.
We raise awareness of online vigilantism among our staff and provide clear path of reporting any concerns.