Information and communication technologies have developed over the last two decades. ICT has allowed adults as well as children to enjoy unprecedented opportunities. They have been engaging in socialization, education, and entertainment. However, it is important to know that Cybercrime against children are on the rise.
Cybercrimes against children is categorized into four areas. They can be child trafficking, cyberbullying, pornography and identity theft. This would cover the age group from 0-10 years, 11-14 years, and 15-18 years. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights say almost 14 crore children have access to mobile phones in India. The number is growing, with even more so with faster access to the internet. Moreover, India’s digitally naïve parents and their children may take to gadgets and technology, exposing themselves to risks.
Cybercrimes on the rise
India is one of the least aware countries in relation to cybercrime. Cybercrimes are not recorded in India with proper care. Lack of awareness among the cops who tackle such cases being one of the reasons. Unfortunately there is no class level discrimination in such types of crimes. All types of children fall prey to such crimes. Games like Blue whale and momo games inflict self-harm among children. These games have led to suicide cases among many underage teenagers.
With earlier platforms like TikTok, it made a child’s self-taken video very accessible. It helped them become social influencers. The chances of their getting lured into sexual abuse rackets are all the more on rise.
Boys Locker Room Incident
Further, the incident of the ‘boys locker room’ is a living example of cybercrime. In a society where we still talk about consent, these 15-year-olds have risen to another issue. Sharing images of underage girls without their knowledge. They also posed rape threats and slut-shamed them.
All this started when a girl posted a series of chat screenshots on her Instagram story. The group had shared pictures of girls, possibly friends of their mutual friends. Soon the screenshots went viral. As a result of which girls received rape threats from the concerned group of boys. Despite the threats, girls in large numbers vented against rape culture. They felt that such activities were responsible for promoting child pornography.
The Delhi Police registered a case under provisions of the IT Act and IPC. The sharing of images of underage girls was a violation of the POCSO Act, 2012. The information on the ‘Bois Locker Room’ group had become public knowledge. So, the cyber cell decided to investigate. It arrested the admin of the Instagram chat group. The devices of identified members were seized and sent for forensic analysis.
The screenshots also included a Snapchat conversation among 2 boys. One of them suggesting to rape a girl. It was later found that it was a girl posing as a boy to test the character. However, she was left with a warning.
After such events, a girl accused another student accusing him of molestation. He faced backlash and received threats on social media. He committed suicide following such allegations. This is a classic case of cyberbullying which leads children to make such decisions.
Steps by the Government
The Government has started educating the police on issues relating to cybercrime. Training on mobile surveillance, tracing anonymous emails, phishing, etc., are being conducted. Cyber cells and cyber forensic labs are being established in every state. Special law enforcement training for child-related cybercrime is also underway. The Department of Telecommunication (DOT) and Information Technology (DIT) are promoting child – parent safety through their online portals.
The goal is to create a secure environment online. Law enforcement agencies are working hand in hand with parents and children. There is still a need for better laws and better technologies. The intermediaries should be [tps_footer][/tps_footer]held responsible, like Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok.
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