Children 'sold for sex on the internet'

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The Independent Online

Children are being sold for sex on the internet and then rated out of 10 by paedophiles, a report said yesterday.

Some children have been sold by relatives and friends who advertised them online with indecent photographs. Pre-pubescent boys and girls are also being coerced into taking part in live sex shows screened on the web which dozens of people pay to watch.

In a report published yesterday, the children's charity Barnardo's said that hi-tech mobile phones which can be used to surf the net and video scenes could lead to many more children being abused.

The report said: "It will increase opportunities for young people to communicate and access web sites and other internet services away from the supervision of their carers."

Barnardo's surveyed children it had helped and identified 83 who had been sexually abused through the internet and mobile phones.

Of those, seven were sold online to paedophiles and one was abused live on the web. The report said: "Not only are children being pimped in this way but these internet sites also inform the inquirer of 'how good a purchase' the child is by rating them from one to 10."

Message boards allow paedophiles to list where children for sale can be found, along with a description or photograph of the child, what sex acts they perform and how much a pimp charges, the report said.

Barnardo's identified one girl aged 14 whose picture was placed on such a web site by an older man who groomed her for prostitution.

"She knew nothing about the site or the fact her photograph had appeared on it but because of the site she could be easily identified by other sex offenders," the report said.

The site was closed down by police but started up again a few days later.