Web bullying uses naked pictures to name and shame in Havering
- Credit: PA WIRE
Illegal social media profiles stockpiling images of naked school pupils to “name and shame” them have been set up targeting Havering children.
A investigation by the Recorder revealed social media profiles – known as “baited pages” – follow a shocking trend where youngsters are dared or peer-pressured into taking photos of themselves and sending them to friends through a phone app.
Insp Clare McCarthy, of Havering Police, warned parents of “the potentially horrible consequences” of not monitoring their children’s use of apps and urged children “to listen” to adults to “stay safe”.
“We are still finding so many people who do not understand the law, do not understand what happens online, do not understand what apps their children are using,” she said.
“Baited pages” are private profiles hosted on social media platforms, which can only be accessed through a private invitation with the requirement that the person submits a naked picture of someone.
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After investigating, the Recorder uncovered a number of pages which we reported to the police and social media platforms immediately.
Pages are understood to have been set up across Havering, targeting specific towns and some pages have hundreds of followers.
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Isobel Cattermole, Havering Council’s group director for children, adults and housing, encouraged “anyone with concerns relating to the safety of a child” to report it to the authority.
“Online safety is a fundamental part of the computing and wider curriculum, and this area of work is an on-going commitment for us as it is constantly changing,” she said.
Internet safety expert Laura Higgins, from the UK Safer Internet Centre, said the centre had dealt with dozens of these pages across the UK.
She explained they have developed in the past six to nine months on the back of a trend which had spread throughout the USA.
“These pages download indecent images of minors, which is against the law. This is cyber-bullying and harassing behaviour,” she told the Recorder.
She said pages were often set up by other young people to “name and shame”.
“They tend to spread in geographical areas – one school will have one and another school will set up a copycat.
“The message to young people should be no-one has the right to post these images on any social media and they will not have anywhere to hide if the police get involved because these pages are illegal.”
The pages are in breach of their hosting sites’ terms and conditions and should be reported to them.