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Page last updated at 10:53 GMT, Monday, 7 January 2008

One Click from Danger

During Panorama's investigation into the vulnerability of youngsters online, we found a number of cases in which teenagers and younger children had been approached by predators on social networking sites.

Panorama researcher
Our researcher set up a virtual identity of a 14-year-old girl on three social networking sites.

Keen to understand more about how this works and, by extension, how children might avoid such dangers, a researcher in our office set up a virtual identity of a 14-year-old girl on three social networking sites. She took on the name Jane Brown and this is her diary.

"I've just moved hear wiv my family. Its well scary starting a new skool, hope I make sum mates soon :-S"

Days 1 and 2

Set up profiles of my new virtual identity as 'Jane Brown' on three different social networking sites.

Jane is a typical 14-year-old girl who likes dancing, singing, watching 'America's Next Top Model' and listening to Girls Aloud.

It seemed to me that there are a number of men out there, with time on their hands, who are using that time to attempt to groom young girls online
She also writes spontaneously and doesn't worry about spelling mistakes.

Jane has just started at a new school and is hoping to make some new friends of her own age.

Each of the three profiles has identical, unprovocative information about Jane and the same three photos of me in my (slightly) younger days.

Days 6-13

Jane checked her different accounts, petted her virtual pet and joined a Hollyoaks group and a 'we love girls aloud' group.

Jane needed to behave like any other 14-year-old and these are the kind of things that 14-year-old girls tend to do on the internet.

Day 14

Mid-afternoon, Jane logged onto one particular site with her profile on it and almost immediately, Lxxx started chatting to her.

Computer keyboard
Jane was asked if she would agree to appear in a peepshow having sex with an older man for a certain sum of money
He quickly wanted to move their conversation from the public space on this site into a private one via instant messaging.

This was to become a regular pattern - men wanting to get Jane out of the public space and into a private area as quickly as possible.

Once on instant messaging, Lxxx's chat quickly turned sleazy:

L: So what are you up to?
J: Just doina bit of homework, well trying to LOL (laugh out loud)
L: I'd like to give you some homework
J: what you mean?
L: sexual homework
J: what do you mean?
L: put my...

A couple of minutes later, Lxxx, who claimed to be 19, said, 'I wish you lived closer so I could take you as a girlfriend'.

He hadn't exactly wooed Jane with his smooth chat up lines to this point and now he was suggesting that Jane might want to consider going out with him.

I wondered how a real 14-year-old would deal with this kind of approach but as I was to discover, this was by no means the worst suggestion Jane would have to cope with.

Day 16

Jane logged onto the same site around 4.10pm. She was bombarded with requests to chat.

Another day, another predator. Rxxxx wanted Jane to be his online daughter and to engage in role-play
It seemed to me that there are a number of men out there, with time on their hands, who are using that time to attempt to groom young girls online.

For example, take Dxxxxxx:
D: hlo bbz asl (It's like learning a new language - mastering this online speak. This means: hello babes age, sex, location?)
J: hi, 14, fem, London U?
D: 14 m Liverpool bbz u got msn? (Again, that desire to move 'Jane' out of the public arena and into a private one).

Day 19

Rxxxx says: You could be my online daughter if you wish.
Jane says: What do u mean?
Rxxxx says: Ever felt that your parents never listen to you...your isolated in your room because no-one understands you, im here to change that.

Another day, another predator. Rxxxx wanted Jane to be his online daughter and to engage in role-play.

Again I wondered how a real 14-year-old, alone in her bedroom, would feel presented with this request - confused, frightened, manipulated?

Day 20

Poor Jane - today she got sent several unsolicited pictures of male genitalia and was asked by Exxxx if she was a virgin to which she replied, 'I'm only 14', only then to be asked if she'd ever engaged in a particular kind of sexual activity.

The most shocking suggestion came today too - Jane was asked if she would agree to appear in a peepshow having sex with an older man for a certain sum of money.

It was shortly after this that we passed on our logs to the police for further investigation.

Any teenagers or younger children who find themselves in similar situations online, should report this abuse via the CEOP 'Report Abuse' facility.

Panorama: One Click from Danger, Monday 7 January 2008, BBC One 8.30pm.

video and audio news
Two girls' experience of an internet predator


Panorama: One Click from Danger



SEE ALSO
One Click From Danger
21 Dec 07 |  Panorama
Sources of help and information
07 Jan 08 |  Panorama
Internet Dos and Don'ts
07 Jan 08 |  Panorama
When online friends spell danger
22 Oct 07 |  Education
Transcript: One Click from Danger
10 Jan 08 |  Panorama

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