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The use of
computers became an ingredient in society from around 1995 the rampant use of
digital devices became a reality from 2005. But since the popularisation of
social digital media platforms after 2012, a major portion of the time that is
spent even by children is on such platforms. It has become an addiction for
many.The use of digital devices has made learning very easy. It is also a fact
that social media has enabled the children to have a connect with their
schoolmates, college mates and others who were not accessible for many years.
This paper attempts to present certain cases for parents and the influence
groups to debate on the Do’s and Don’ts this era of digitisation, social media
and beyond, to mould a safer society for tomorrow.

 

1.0  Objectives
of the Study

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1.      To understand the perspectives on how addictive behaviour in
usage of mobile phones and social media affect girls in adolescent stage
adversely.

2.      A short recital of seven kinds of traps cases pertaining to
molestation of adolescent girls using social media are given to understand the
ways in which traps are laid by the delinquents.

3.      Understand the psychological changes in adolescent girls consequent
to molestation that would serve as early warning signals to parents and
teachers from academic works

4.      To suggest the actions to be taken by parents and teachers
for safe progression of adolescent girls during the early transition phase
of their life.

 

2.0  Research Design

 

The approach followed for developing
this paper has been the following.

1.      Understand the scope of mobile gadgets
and social media from a constructive perspective and otherwise.

2.      Review of general media reports on abuse
of girl children using so coal media.
Literature review on how such behaviour from the
opposite sex adversely affect the psycho-social behaviour of adolescent girls.

3.      Study of cases under investigation by
Police with involvement of the quasi-judicial Child Welfare Committee.

4.      Review of Literature on successful
parenting of adolescent girl Children.

 

3.0  Sampling

An exhaustive review of Crime related
reports of nearly 30 cases registered pertaining to use of Social media for
sexual abuse of adolescent girlswas conducted to understand the broad nature of
traps laid by the miscreants.The geographical area is Palakkad district in Kerala
There were constraints to test the psycho-social parameters of the victims and
the offenders as the cases were under investigation. This area offers scope for
further research after the investigation and trial is completed.

 

4.0  Academic Perspectives

 

5.1 Hyeokoo Eric Kwon, Et
al. (2016) had attempted to investigate whether addiction to mobile social
apps should be viewed as a rational behaviour rather than an uncontrollable,
irrational disorder. The pertinent question is whether addiction-related
problems should be addressed through users’ self-regulation or government
regulation. This study attempted to examine the addictive nature of digital IT artefacts
that are non-physical, social, and highly accessible. The findings state that
Users who are older and more educated and those who are younger and less
educated are both less-forward-looking in their consumption of digital social
apps. Bianchi andPhillips (2005) revealed that extraversion and low
self-esteem are significant psychological predictors of heavy mobile phone use.
The nature oriented standpoint of addictionas explained by a type of “disease
model,” in which compulsive and irrational behaviours originate from
neurological, genetic, and biological causes that can be cured only by lifelong
self-restraint, has been challenged by Becker and Murphy (1988) who broke new
ground in the study of human behaviour. People who suffer from depression are
at risk for social isolation and sometimes turn to risky Internet sites and
blogs for ‘help’ that may promote substance abuse, sexual practices, aggressive
and self-destructive behaviours. Social media promotes superficial connections
that can end up causing long-term emotional and psychological problems. Social
media also fosters false intimacy both intentionally false and unintentionally
false. Without acknowledging these negative personal impacts of social media,
the harms, both psychological and emotional will continue to grow.

5.2 According to
Weimann, terrorists started using the Internet almost 16 years ago. Ever since
then, monitoring the use of the Internet and online platforms use by terrorist
groups has skyrocketed from 12 to over 9,800 terrorist websites.Sandy K Wurtle (1993) had pointed out that Child sexual
abuse is a widespread social problem that negatively affects victims, families,
communities, and society.As
outlined in an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states
that Emotional/Social Changes in children belonging to the age group 15-17
years might have more interest in romantic relationships and sexuality,
go through less conflicts with parents, show more independence from parents,
have a deeper capacity for caring and sharing and for developing more intimate
relationships, spend less time with parents and more time with friends and feel
a lot of sadness or depression, which can lead to poor grades at school,
alcohol or drug use, sex and other problems.

 

5.3 Carolina A. Klein (2014) has observed that a
variety of sexual behaviours occur online, including those that are highly
unusual or even plainly illicit. There is a growing body of literature
pertaining to sexual abuse of minors that occurs or may be promoted online, The
Internet has become an ever-expanding source of information and opportunities
in every domain of life, particularly for younger generations. Along with the
benefits come certain risks and potentially negative influences. For example,
the web provides an avenue for sexual exploration for special populations such
as mentally impaired individuals, it provides forums where people recovering from
sexual pathologies may find support and guidance, and it provides ease of
access and anonymityfor adolescents seeking information or advice surrounding
topics of sexuality. This anonymity and ease of access, however, may delay the
identification or management of risky behaviours. Online sexual activity begs
attention because of its magnitude and potential ramifications. Questions arise
within the realm of legal regulation, particularly as we move deeper into the
era of cloud computing. Jurisdiction is one consideration as these matters
often cross international boundaries. Localization of criminal evidence may be
increasingly difficult in the era of cloud storage. Copies of illegal material
may not be stored in a personal hard drive and can be deletedin the Internet
within seconds. It may also not be clear what level of privacy a user may
expect in cloud storage and whether government agencies may access cloud
accounts.

 

5.4 Awareness of the risks, and an ability
to articulate them, does not necessarily translate into behaviour change that
enables children tonavigate risks safely (Third et al, 2014).The challenge outlined by them is to support users to
minimise the risks without limiting their digital participation and their
capacity to derive the full benefits of connectivity. Cyber safety needs to be
considered against a transforming backdrop of technology trends, products and
practices. While the rise of social media has tended to dominate recent debate
and developments in cyber safety, particularly in relation to young people, a
range of other trends is also shaping how users engage online, the risks they
potentially face in the new media landscape, and the strategies used to address
them.

 

This paper
attempts to present certain cases that illustrate how the cyber space was used
by certain miscreants to woo adolescent girls to achieve their ulterior motive
of child abuse and molestation.

 

6.0Instances of Harassment of Adolescent girls using
Digital Platforms

 

6.1       Case Type – 1 : Trap laid sensing poor
parenting and family issues

An adolescent girl in North India engages in a Friendship with a boy
from South India through Digital Media. After stating domestic problems, she
asks the boy to take her to his home town. He agrees and subjects to molestation
in various places for more than a month. When they reach the boy’s home town
Police arrests the boy and charges under Protection of Children from Sexual
Offences Act (POCSO). This is a case which started from poor parenting and
family issues. The girl sought refuge under an unknown “friend” from the
digital world and succumbed to his pressures.

 

6.2       Case
Type –  2 : Trap laid by
familiarity, love affair and promises on marriage

An adolescent boy and girl engaged in a love affair while in High School.
The boy promised to marry her and took photographs and videos of pornographic
nature and threatened to put it in Digital Media if she did not oblige further frequently.
However, the parents of the girl noticed this from digital messages in the girl’s
mobile phone. The boy was arrested and charged under POCSO. Here familiarity, love
affairand promises on marriage, molestation of the girl and threatening of use
through Digital Media led to this crime.

 

6.3       Case
Type –3 : Trap
laid by arousal of sexual desire through digital media

Anadolescent girl gets familiarised with a boy in a professional games
training session. They engage in a friendship and the boy registers a digital
media account for her. He slowly seduces her by sharing messages of
pornographic nature shared by others to make her interested in such activities.
Later they too share their private images. When she did not oblige for physical
contacts, the boy threatened her of publishing the photographs thus taken in
Social media. The educated girl sensing the trap complaints to her parents and
the boy is arrested. Here the boy conspired to develop sexual desire in the
girl and commits her to his wishes. But perhaps because of the family and
educational background, the girl managed to come out of further traps laid down
by the accused. The boy was charged under POCSO.

 

6.4       Case
Type –4 : Trap
laid by friendship leading to immoral activities as a Group

This is a case of a molestation by a friendship through social media. A
boy from a distant district in a South Indian State gets familiarised with an
adolescent girl through digital media. They meet many times and shares the experiences
through Chats. At times they engage in quarrels. The girl left her house to
reach the boy’s house. He arranges accommodation for her in his friend’s house
and continue his physical contacts. A friend of the girl is also seduced to
join them. While travelling together they get detained by the Police and the
boy is charged under POCSO. This is a case of friendship leading to immoral
activities, sharing of experiences to make another girl to join their company
and deterrent action by the Police. The boy is charged under POCSO. Perhaps this
is a case of an emerging sex racket getting busted.

 

6.5       Case
Type –5 : Trap
for sexual abuse and extortion

A lorry driver gets himself introduced to a school girl. He purchases a
mobile phone for her and they continue to be in contact most of the time.
Sensing this, the girl’s parents snatch the mobile phone and warns her. But the
lorry driver continues further “investment” in mobile phones and maintains
regular contact with the adolescent girl. He seduces her to share his bed many
times in his house and takes pornographic photos and videos. Then he started
threatening to post it in social media and demanded money and jewellery from
her. The girl lodges a complaint and the lorry driver are charged under POCSO.
This is a case of friendship, seduction, molestation, threatening to use
Digital media and extortion.

 

6.6       Case
Type –6 : Trap
due to immorality of Parents

An adolescent girl gets sexually tortured by many on a number of
occasions. The girl absconded from her house and was later detained by the
Police. She stated that her mother had various contacts through the social
media and that her mother had “sold” her to the former’s friends. Many of them
were detained under POCSO. This is a case of immorality of parents costing a
child dearly.

 

6.7       Case
Type –7 : Trap
laid during Foster Care

A family took an adolescent girl on Foster
Care.The girl complained of an old man in the family seducing her while seeking
medical attention. Pornographic
photos in mobile phones were reportedly used. The old man was detained under POCSO

 

6.8       The underlying factors of all above
deviations and cases have been poor parenting, family issues, round the clock
familiarity, love affair, promises for marriage, threatening with pornographic
photos and videos, physical contacts, immoral activities of parents, extorsion
and unsafe circumstances during foster care.

 

6.9       The
above illustrations stress the need for very careful child rearing, especially duringthe
adolescent stage. Though it is a mammoth task to sensitise parents and teachers
on the risks and warning signals from an Indi dual child centric psycho-social
perspective, it needs to be undertaken comprehensively by professionals in this
domain. Avenues for legal redressal will have to be popularised.

 

6.10     Warning Signals for
Parents

The complaints
originated when behavioural changes were noticed in the victims. Patty Ondenko
in the article on “Tips for Child Sex Abuse Prevention” had stated about the signs because
of sex abuse in children, it ranges from regressive
behaviour (acting much younger than they are), increased dependency on
non-abusing adults, withdrawal and isolation from others, increased
aggressiveness or hostility, sudden fear of the dark, frequent nightmares and
changes in sleep (either insomnia or increased sleeping).

 

7.0       Conclusion

 

7.1       Risks

The use of
digital devices has made communication easier. It is also a fact that social
media has enabled the children to have a connect with their schoolmates,
college mates and others who were not accessible for many years. At the same
time the social media that emerged from digitisation poses a very major risk of
getting connected with unknown individuals and groups who can mislead the
children who are mostly in the adolescentstages of their life. It is noted that
the children who are not subject to a very careful parenting, those who do not
have very strong bonds in the family, those who are not subject to an ethical
religious mentoring and those who are indifferent fall in this vulnerable
segment. There are many instances of children getting mesmerised and misled by
suggestions given through groups like the dreaded ‘Blue Whale’ and have even
lost their lives. It is noted that, in some cases, children who pursue uncommon
interests get attracted to certain Clandestine groups and lose direction because
of addiction to a trait.

 

There are
cults which are even capable of misleading children close to adulthood. There
are many clandestine groups which catch people when they are young and
brainwash them to channelize their thoughts to towards the direction of their
perverted philosophy.Digitisation and digital media have certainly enabled the
world around us to become small. It has also enabled the children to improve
their exposure and facilitated its use for productive purposes. But at the same
time a new world has been created for  
‘Children in psycho-social isolation’. They become part of an unknown
global community with perverted thoughts. This is a major risk not only for
them but also for their family and the world at large.Adolescent children belonging
to low income groups and those from broken families are at more risk.

 

7.2       Role of Parents and Teachers in Risk
Mitigation

The parents, teachers and mentors
who are to inculcate ethics and safe realistic living have a major role now. Parents can prepare themselves and their children for a
smoother transition and greater success in achieving the tasks of adolescent
development. They can be equipped to provide a stable,
safe and loving home environment, creating an atmosphere of honesty, mutual
trust, and respect, creating a culture of open communication times, allowing
age appropriate independence and assertiveness, developing a relationship that
encourages your child to speck openly, teaching responsibility for their
belongings, teaching the importance of accepting limits and by teaching the
importance of thinking before acting.

Parents need to talk to their children in the
adolescent stage about his/her concerns and pay attention to any changes in
their behaviour. They need to ask them whether they had suicidal thoughts,
particularly if they see as sad or depressed. Asking about suicidal thoughts
will not cause them to have these thoughts, but it will let them know that the
parents care about how their children feel. Professional help may also be
sought help if necessary. The parents should show interest in theirchildren’s school
and extracurricular interests and activities and encourage them to become
involved in activities such as sports, music, theatre, and art and compliment
them for their achievements. The parents should encourage children to volunteer
and become involved in civic activities in her community. The parents should
encourage their children to develop solutions to problems or conflicts and help
them to make good decisions. The parents should discuss about what is to be
done can do if their children are in vulnerable groups while respecting the child’s
need for privacy.

A high
degree of continued sensitisation is required for children and parents
especially belonging to weaker sections economically and socially. While the
real fruits of technology can be got we can also ensure a safer society.

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