Children lured to watch animal cruelty online
Violent internet film postings often disguised to lure in innocent youngsters, survey says
Emily Dugan is social affairs correspondent for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards.
Wednesday 01 May 2013
More than a quarter of British children have seen distressing videos of animal cruelty online, according to research that reveals how little parents know about their offspring’s internet habits. The figure means animal-harm videos are now the most commonly viewed inappropriate content by under-16s.
Two thirds of youngsters have had a negative web experience, but only one in five parents realise this, according to the parenting website Netmums. More than 800 children, aged seven to 16, and 1,127 parents were interviewed in the study, published on Wednesday.
The psychological impact of exposure to disturbing online content was revealed by the comments children made about upsetting experiences. One child recalled that they had seen “a beaten-up dog all bleeding and some guy with a hammer laughing”. Another said: “When Facebook got hacked lots of pictures of animals being hurt were popping up.”
One video, viewed by thousands online, shows a young woman drowning a bucket of puppies in a river by throwing them in one by one.
Sometimes shocking content depicting animals being hurt is deliberately listed as something benign, such as “cute puppy”, on sharing sites such as Tumblr, in an effort to lure in unsuspecting viewers.
Dr Angharad Rudkin, a clinical child psychologist, said that seeing animals being harmed could cause lasting trauma to children. “Traumatic images are quite hard to get rid of once you get them in your head,” she said. “It depends on the young person but it could be really quite disturbing and the images could come back to the child’s mind when they don’t want them to.”
With more than half of the children interviewed accessing inappropriate content online, the results will make unsettling reading for parents. One in five young people looked at self-harm images, a quarter had accessed eating disorder and “thinspiration” sites and 6 per cent had seen violent pornography. One in 20 also said that they had met up in real life with a stranger after initial contact online.
Though parents are often scrupulous at setting up filters to protect children from sexual material, many of the most disturbing things seen by young people are unlikely to be picked up by a filter. One child described this phenomenon: “I once got this spam email and it had a link so I clicked on it. I then saw a boy in China being punished – the punishment was a car running over his arm whilst people pinned him down. I was only nine at the time.”
Life & Style blogs
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
Alien: Isolation preview - If you scream in space, it makes a sound
Mac OS X Yosemite download: How to get the open beta of Apple's latest operating system
Xiaomi Mi4: 'Chinese Apple' launches flagship mobile to challenge iPhone
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...
£400 - £401 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SSIS Administrat...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...