Teen girls most at risk of sexual exploitation according to Detective

Girls aged between twelve and seventeen are the most likely victims of online sexual exploitation according to Detective Superintendent Declan Daly in DCU, last Monday.

In a talk, organised by DCU’s ELSA society, Mr Daly spoke to students about the new Garda National Protective Services Bureau(GNPSB) and the prevalence of online exploitation in Ireland. Mr Daly talked about the new bureau which has jurisdiction over cases involving sexual crime, online child exploitation, child protection, domestic abuse, human trafficking, prostitution, and missing persons.

Online child exploitation was the main topic with Mr Daly saying that “there are lots of predators online and they’re there for one purpose and one purpose only”.  Declan went through the various methods that predators used to exploit children online using examples of cases he has met during his career.

The first method was grooming which he described as “how people interact with children in order to groom them for sexual purposes.” Another was catfishing which is when someone pretends to be someone else usually to blackmail the victim with nude images they are tricked into sending.

Next there was harvesting which is when someone takes photos from a victim’s social media account to use them for advertising online sites. These victims here usually being between 13 and 16 years old. The final form of sexual exploitation was sexting and blackmail through sexual images with Mr Daly reminding students that “once you post an image, it’s gone”.

Mr Daly said that the average victim of online sexual exploitation was between the ages of 12 to 17 with some being as young as nine years old, and that usually there are twice as many female victims than there are males. The profile of an offender was between the ages of 25-50, intelligent, employed, in a relationship and with no previous convictions.

Lucy Rowan, chairperson of the ELSA society said that the talk was “very successful… it was a nice insight into the different areas of law” and that it was “nice to meet someone who assists the protection of children in Ireland.”

Callum Lavery

Image: Facing Forward