September 17, 2007

Pre-offence’ Net abuse of child a crime
Aloke Tikku and Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 17, 2007

Soon the Net will become safer for your child. The Government has accepted a parliamentary panel’s suggestion that pre-offence “grooming” over the Net should be made a criminal offence.
Several countries, including the UK, US and Australia, have already criminalised online “grooming” — a term to describe Internet predators communicating with children online to gain their trust, breaking down their defences and then manipulating them into real-life sexual encounters.

The Department of Information Technology has also promised to consider making the sharing of information about websites for downloading pornography a criminal offence. A common strategy to lead children to believe that it was all right to expose themselves was to show them movies and images of other children indulging in sexual acts.

There are no studies to indicate the kind of risk that Indian children face in the borderless cyberspace.

"That does not imply the problem does not exist," siad Vidya Reddy, executive director of the Chennai - headquartered TULIR Centre for the Prevention and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.

Indians have had a very understated view of the extent of child abuse in India. "The problems are real ... you obviously do not see the problem if you close your eyes," she said. That is why the first national survey on child abuse this year served as a wake-up call. Nearly half of the over 12,000 children surveyed across 13 states acknowledged they had been sexually abused.