POG: European Online Grooming Project
Stephen Webster NatCen (UK) , Professor Julia Davidson (UK), Professor Antonia Bifulco(UK), Professor Petter Gottschalk(Norway) , Professor Vincenzo Caretti (Italy), Professor Thierry Pham(Belgium).
About this study
The sexual abuse of young people who meet their abusers online is an international problem. Our researchers are currently studying the different ways in which sexual offenders approach, communicate with and ‘groom’ young people online.
Findings from the study, which reports in December 2011, will be used to improve risk management strategies adopted by policy makers and law enforcement agencies across Europe. It will also be used to raise awareness among teachers, parents and young people.
A recent report from the Centre for Missing and Exploited Children underlines the scale of the problem, reporting 2,660 incidents of adults using the internet to befriend a child in order to entice them into meeting.
As more young people use the internet for social networking with friends, so the potential for contact with sexual offenders increases.
The European Online Grooming Project is co-funded by the European Union, through the Safer Internet plus programme.
Potential policy impact
Findings from the research will be disseminated via a series of workshops run across Europe and attended by policy makers, practitioners, teachers, parents and young people.
The study will make a significant contribution to the development of educational awareness and prevention initiatives.
Our research involves three phases:
· Phase 1 is a scoping study of convicted online groomers' case files, a pan European literature review and interviews with strategic stakeholders.
· Phase 2 consists of interviews with convicted online groomers in the UK, Italy, Belgium and Norway.
· Phase 3 includes workshops with policy makers, teachers, parents and young people to disseminate the findings and draw out risk and safety lessons.