Internet Safety In Teesside
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In May 2002, 13-year-old teenager Christina Long, from the United States was killed by Saul Dos, a Brazilian immigrant she had met through the Internet. 

"The Internet cannot physically hurt a child, it is people who hurt children".Internet Safety In Teesside  compiled a report Children On-line In Teesside confirming that children in Teesside are being sexually exploited online. The story below was written by Rebecca a 16 year old girl from Teesside who wrote her own personal story to highlight the hurt and distress which this has brought to her and her family. This is now the second family which we are working with where a 12 year old girl has been a victim of online grooming by a paedophile.

We hope this is the last! 

On a personal note I would like to say thank you to Rebecca and her family. Rebecca has not only come forward to write this story but is going that one step further promoting, organising and hoping to deliver Internet safety awareness sessions for other teens and parents in her own community. Well Done!

A True Story Written By Rebecca a 16 Year Old  Girl From Teesside
* Names have been changed in this story to help protect the 12 year old victim

In my experience, I have always trusted the internet. But yet, I do not use chatrooms as often as many. I am not lonely, anti social or whatnot. I found the internet a safe place to do my homework, writing and to chat to my  boyfriend, on MSN messenger. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the internet.  When I was 11 to 14, I spent all of my time on the internet, on chatrooms, anything where I could communicate with people my own age, or who seemed to be of my own age. I spent so much time on there, I was promoted on my chat site as teen moderator - I kept the chatrooms under control. In my experience as a chat moderator, I found nobody would talk to me. Certain people did, but they were asking about chat rules, and if I could kick somebody from the chatroom I was in. My name was "*ChaT MoDerAtoR*" - the people who chatted in there did not know my sex, and assumed me to be male, as I didn't have a sexy female name.  I didn't get many private messages at all. I was addicted though, I spent day and night on my computer.  I'm afraid to say this is what happened to my 12 year old niece, Kelly. She has low self esteem to start with, and she became ultimately addicted to MSN messenger and the internet. I had her password so I could keep checks on her. Then, I found there to be something wrong as she became secretive in her ways. Before she changed her password, I found somebody's MSN profile to have a picture of a man's penis on his personal photograph. I deleted the e-mail from my niece's messenger, hoping that would be the end of the porn in her account. Kelly had become a victim of internet "grooming" by a paedophile. I'm afraid we found out when it was getting to be too late.  One night, I was sat in my room with my boyfriend, and the telephone rang. I found it to be a perfectly legitimate phone call, so I answered the phone. This is how the conversation went. "Hello?""Hello.""Hello...""Hello.""Hi.""Why can't you do that little thing for me?""What little thing? Who is this?""It's Kevin.""Who?""Wait a minute... is this Kelly?""No.""Is Kelly in?""No. Who is this and what little thing?"                        ****"Kevin" hangs up**** As you can imagine, this conversation was quite frightening for me, as I did not know who this man was, where he was from, or what he was doing to Kelly. So I did the only thing I could think of doing - telling my father, who was sat downstairs.  I told him, and he questioned Kelly on how he got our house telephone number. Kelly replied with she hadn't gave him our house number. My dad assumed she was lying, so my boyfriend volunteered to check the computer downstairs incase 'Kevin' was a hacker, and he'd found out our telephone number by hacking into our harddrive. It turns out he had not hacked into the computer in the previous twenty minutes. Me and my dad were terrified of what this man might have done to obtain our phone number. Then, my dad told me that Kelly has said something along the lines of "That will be Kevin" when the phone rang. My dad was very very worried as you can imagine, as Kelly had been warned many times not to give out personal details. Kelly had also given out her mobile telephone number, which he had been texting her on and arranging to meet her. He had said he was coming to Teesside in the summer to see her. When my mother came in, she was informed of the matter and she put Kelly's school on high alert. Kelly was monitored through the day to make sure she was alright.  As me and my boyfriend searched through the computer, we found that the 'temporary program files' had been blocked from us accessing. From this, we predicted that 'Kevin' might have sent a internet trojan to Kelly through pornographic pictures and video's he'd been sending her. A trojan allows whoever owns the program to send a server for the program through a picture file, and when the receiver opens the file it allows the person to access their computer at any time, and find every personal detail that has ever been logged into the computer since the last reboot. Scary stuff.  Anyway, we had the police round to our house, investigating into the matter. They phoned 'Kevin'... and found out he lived in the place he said he did, so Kelly was safe for now. 'Kevin' was given an official warning to stay away from Kelly. 
 Scary stuff. This incident has naturally shook my family up, and we'd like to warn teens, children and even adults against the dangers of the internet. Never think "It won't happen to me"... because chances are, it will. Rebecca 

News Articles Regarding Rebecca's Story
We would like to thank Stuart Arnold, and the Editor of the The Northern Echo for helping us to raise awareness to these dangers which children face online. 

Featured in The Northern Echo: Monday June 16th 2003

Police powerless as girl of 12 is sent Internet porn

by Stuart Arnold

POLICE were last night investigating claims that a 12-year-old girl was stalked by a man on the Internet, but admitted they could be powerless to act. The youngster, whom The Northern Echo is choosing not to identify, was sent pornographic images and had arranged to meet the man at her home on Teesside before her family stepped in.

Cleveland police confirmed that they had received a complaint and officers were attempting to trace a man living in the Greater London area. But they said that although inquiries were continuing, so far no offences had been disclosed.

Changes to the law to make grooming a child with intent to have sexual relations an offence have been announced by Home Secretary David Blunkett, but are unlikely to come into effect until next year.

Meanwhile, The Northern Echo has learned that the man, who has already received a warning about his behaviour, is continuing to make on-line contact with other youngsters.

The 12-year-old girl's grandfather said last night: "If I get hold of him, I will kill him - he needs stopping. "Who knows what would have happened if they had met. He could have done anything.

David Stenson, of support group Internet Safety in Teesside, said: "This kind of thing is happening in homes up and down the country."

Twenty men have been jailed in the past two years for sex offences involving children whom they met in chat rooms, according to charity NCH Action for Children.

Teesside university professor Alisdair Gillespie, a member of the Home Office's Internet Task Force, said: "There is acknowledgement by the Government that this is a problem and they are trying to do something about it, but it takes time. "It is unfortunate at the moment that where you get a case like this, there is very little the police can do." Mr Gillespie said it was difficult to bring a prosecution unless a meeting had taken place or harrassment could be proved.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland police said officers were making checks on the man. 

Featured in the Evening Gazette: Monday June 16th 2003

Hunt after picture sent to Girl, 12

CLEVELAND Police are trying to trace a man after a 12-year-old Teesside schoolgirl was sent a picture of a naked man over the Internet.

A force spokesman said the man they want to speak to is believed to have contacted the girl through an online chat room. He is believed to be in the London area.

He added: "We are carrying out traces on his email address and mobile phone. But this takes time it's not easy as tracing a BT line and requires a number of permissions being granted."

It is understood the photo was "indecent rather than pornographic". 

Featured in the advertiser: Friday July 25th 2003

Family upset as internet ‘stalker’ still not traced

by Stuart Arnold
A FAMILY who say a 12-year-old girl was stalked by a man on the internet have criticised police for their handling of the case. 
Cleveland Police received a complaint from the girl’s grandparents after she was sent pornographic images by an older man she met in a chat room. 
      The youngster had arranged to meet the man before her family discovered what was going on and stopped her from making any further contact. 
      On Monday the family, who live in East Cleveland, said they had been disappointed with the police’s response, almost six weeks after their initial complaint and accused them of not taking it seriously. 
      The girl’s grandmother said: "The police said they were going to try to prosecute this as a crime, but we’ve been told so many conflicting things by them. They said they would examine our granddaughter’s computer and formally interview her, but neither has happened yet. 
      "I am disappointed with the way they have handled this and our concern obviously is that if this man has targeted our granddaughter then he must have done the same with other children."
      She said that police had given her the name of the man in his forties they believed may be responsible, although it was unclear whether detectives had made contact with him. 
      The dangers of so-called Internet grooming have since been highlighted by the case of 12-year-old Shevaun Pennington who ran of with a US marine she met on the internet. 
      A spokeswomen for Cleveland Police stressed that inquiries were continuing. 
      She said: "Unfortunately, these things take time. We are carrying out subscriber checks in relation to this man’s e-mail address and telephone number and are waiting for the companies concerned to come back to us." 
      The spokeswomen said that during the course of inquiries the name of a man from Plymouth had come up, but subsequent checks on him with local police had proved negative. 
      She said: "What we want is the man responsible and his computer and when we have traced him we may well come back and examine the complainant’s computer." 
      Until changes to the law, due to come into force next year, experts say it will remain difficult to bring prosecution in such cases unless a meeting actually takes place or some form. 
What some people are searching for online raises some concerns? 

       Police and Law Enforcement agencies from around the World are working together to arrest and jail people who download and distribute child pornography over the Internet. see Arrests

Unfortunately the message that people will be jailed for downloading and distributing child pornography does not appear to have been taken seriously by some people online. 

Below is a sample of key words which people have typed into a search engine whilst looking for websites. These words have brought them to this website (see Key Words

  • naked 13 year old girls 
  • sexy 15 year old girls 
  • naked 12 year old girl 
  • 10 year old girls naked 

A poll titled "Looking For Child Pornography On The Internet" has been added onto the Key Words page and the Arrests page, please take a minute to submit your vote. 

The people who continue to search for and download this material may find themselves on the Arrests page. 

The Internet is a valuable resource which cannot be ignored it lets us communicate, educate and entertain all at the same time. The Internet has given young people, in particular a virtual playground, a place to learn and meet new friends from home and around the world. 

But sadly the Internet is not immune from criminal abuse and its hidden dangers. The dangers are real according to NCH Action For Children in the past 2 years at least twenty men have been jailed in England and Wales for sex offences involving children, whom they met in chat rooms. It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 chat rooms, with 1 in 5 children visiting chat rooms when online. 

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