Deekshith D V
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Oct 7: With the advent of modern technology, people often wonder whether children having access to social media is a boon or a bane. This question often lingers in the minds of every parent and compels them to restrict the use of social media access to the minimum at home. Their worry is not unfounded, considering the contemporary scenario where crime rates and violence against children are on the increase.
There are many instances to prove that minors using the social media get exposed to child pornography and explicit content after coming into contact with 'online predators' and paedophiles who create fake accounts in these social media to promote pornography. This situation unfortunately is worse in cities where many schoolgoing students have access to mobile phones and social media like Twitter, where, often fake accounts are created by 'online predators' or paedophiles.
In a worrying trend, children in Mangaluru seem to be becoming exposed to explicit adult content on the internet, that too child pornography.
(Pic supplied by Santhosh Kumar)
Santhosh Kumar, a resident of Valencia, a few days back found a group of little boys who were discussing explicit content they found in a Twitter page and was stunned to hear their conversation. Twitter is extensively used for social networking and often, ill used by online predators to disseminate and promote the child pornography which is illegal and violation of law in many countries. Twitter has a well defined policy against posting content that show sexual exploitation of children. The policy states that such content, when brought to its notice, would be removed without further notice and reported to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the person's account suspended. But despite the terms, such pornographic content is easily available on Twitter.
Speaking to daijiworld.com, Santhosh Kumar said, "I was really stunned to find that these boys were discussing about the explicit content in our region. When I checked the Twitter, I was extremely shocked to see the child pornography content, and I approached the police station."
He further said, "This is a gross violation of law and it is illegal. Predators who use the social media to propagate their vested motives through such explicit images should be penalized. That page should be removed immediately."
As a responsible citizen, Santhosh approached the police station for three consecutive days to file a complaint, but all he got was a feeble response asking him to come the next day. When he went to the police station and the commissionate office in the city, no police personnel entertained him, instead they were cool about the whole issue, he alleges.
He then approached child welfare committee, Prajna Counselling Centre and Padi-Child Line, all of whom expressed shock at what they saw.
Santhosh along with officials of Padi-Child Line and Prajna Counselling Centre also approached the SP on Tuesday October 6 evening and filed a complaint. The SP and other police personnel while accepting the complaint acknowledged that the content was indeed child pornography and asked Santhosh to file a fresh complaint with details about the Twitter handle of the offenders. The officers also assured that a stern notice would be sent to Twitter to suspend the accounts and justify how such content was allowed in its server.
On Wednesday October 7, Santhosh Kumar would be approaching the DCP with the complaint backed by relevant data. Once the DCP accepts the complaint, it would be forwarded to the police commissioner who will then write to Twitter to take action. This route is being chosen so that action would initiate from a law enforcing agency, said Santhosh.
"Twitter operates in San Francisco, USA, and this is a serious offense on US soil," Santhosh pointed out.
Renni D'Souza, director of Padi-Child Line speaking to daijiworld said, "Child pornography is an offence under POCSO and IT Acts and this is a violation of law. Proper action will be initiated and we will write to Twitter to ban the account. If there is no response from the police department, we will approach the child welfare commission in this regard," he said.
Hilda Rayappan of Prajna Counselling Centre said, "This is an illegal thing considering that the content was posted by minors in social media. It is really bad and being responsible citizens and in view of the betterment of the society, we should oppose this tooth and nail."
Also, it has been decied that underage children who were found to access these accounts would be sent for counselling immediately.
Speaking to daijiworld on the issue, Shwetha K T, a psychologist at Manasa Nursing Home, Shimoga, said, "The concept of children viewing explicit content can be viewed from three angles. The present generation has easy accesibility to almost everything, both positive and negative. Children are exposed to information overload much before they acquire stable moral development. Adding to this at a second level is the fact that sex is a taboo in the Indian scenario. The adult society refuses to answer the little minds' questions on rape, masturbation and so on and this builds curiosity. This curiosity sets the child in search of answers to their questions. They look for the net to discuss with peer groups and try dangerous sexual experiments to answer their curiosities. At the third level, media also has a role to play.
"Being exposed to porn definitely has negative psychological consequences on children. It is high time we change our mindset and work on these issues. Childeren as young as 13 and 14 getting acquainted to porn is really shocking," she said.