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Online exploitation

The War Cry comments on the internet

The internet has revolutionised our lives

‘OK Google, so how did we cope before we had access to the internet?’

Since the roll-out of the world wide web in the 1990s, the lives of millions of people have become increasingly taken up with online activity. At the touch of a button or screen we are able to compare markets, watch TV box sets, post on social media or check a celebrity’s date of birth. No longer do we have to go to a station to check the train timetable or even a shop to do our shopping. The internet has revolutionised our lives.

There is so much that is good about the internet. But it has also given rise to problems that could not have been imagined just a few decades ago. It is misused for trolling, the spreading of fake news, scams that have robbed people of thousands of pounds and the sharing of shocking images and videos of sexual abuse.

The last crime is horrifying no matter who is exploited, but it is particularly repulsive when the victims are children. In this week’s issue, we speak to Hayley Chapman, who works in the Philippines for International Justice Mission, a global organisation that, among other activities, protects children who are subjected to online sexual abuse and brings their abusers to justice.

It is harrowing to read about what the children are subjected to but encouraging to know that, as a result of the work of Hayley and her colleagues, the number of children available for sexual exploitation in one part of the country has been reduced by 86 per cent.

However, even a reduced number of people abused through the misuse of online technology is still too many. The internet can be an asset, but more must be done to protect the vulnerable from those who would exploit them for their own gain.

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