A 12-year-old girl who didn’t have many friends at school started looking for new people online.social media, but what was found was a group of makeup artists (stalkers) who showed her pornography and so she started using it at an early age.
It was a Mexican gang dedicated to human trafficking that recruited children and gained their trust through a screen, hiding behind fake profiles.
This story is one of the cases of haircut visited by Valientes Colombia, an NGO that is part of Alianza Niñez Ya and is dedicated to fighting this practice.
Read here: (Colombia, among the 20 countries with the most child marriages)
What is “trimming” and how to recognize it?
The haircut It consists of the sexual harassment of an adult against a girl, boy or adolescent via the Internet, as defined by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina in the “Guide for mothers, fathers and teachers: shaping”.
Catherine Jaramillo, director of Valientes Colombia, explains that there is confusion with the word because is mistakenly associated with pet grooming, due to its literal translation into Spanish, which makes it difficult to identify this problem among the authority figures of minors, leaving them with a void in front of this concept and therefore very few tools to deal with it.
Jaramillo explains that haircut in social networks it works like this: a person who harasses usually creates a fake profile not only on well-known networks, such as TikTok, Instagram or Facebook – to name a few – but also on apps, multiplayer video games or other social media through which you can communicate with a minor without intermediaries.
Also: (Is it safe to be a girl in Colombia? The tough scenario they face)
There he pretends to be a person of his victim’s age to build trust and build a friendship or romantic relationship with girls, boys or teenagers. The abuser then starts asking the victim for sexually explicit photos or videos.
When he succeeds, he blackmails and threatens the minor to make this material public if he does not send new photos or videos or if he does not accept a personal meeting. Other times, if there is a relationship of trust, the victim may agree to a personal meeting, implying a greater risk that could lead to a case of kidnapping, abuse or human trafficking.
According to a study by the Columbia Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF), In Colombia, 30 percent of minors surveyed had met people online and of that group, 17 percent reported having a face-to-face meeting with their virtual friends.
“For example, through Tinder, a teenager married another supposed teenager who fell in love with her, they met, and he abused her and wanted to get her out of the country,” Jaramillo says of a case that reached the foundation.
Unfortunately, this crime affects women to a greater extent, as more than 80 percent of the victims are women.with adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 being most affectedaccording to the Escnna observatory, a result of the Valientes Colombia line of research.
According to the historical census, the number of cases of sexual abuse by an adult and remuneration in money or in kind (Escnna) has doubled in a decade, reaching 2,452 in 2021. However, no one in the country considered haircut as a crime, which makes it difficult to access data for investigations or punishments in these cases and hinders the framework for action by parents and teachers.
What should adults do?
“We are surprised that parents and teachers are not familiar with social networks or their lingo and therefore do not know how they work or what can happen there”
One of the decisions parents usually make when faced with these risks is prohibition, an alternative that experts say is not effective.
“There’s a lot of adult-focus in these issues that thinks about girls from an adult perspective, but you have to understand that they have the ability. It’s not that we invent a model and impose it on them, and that’s it,” says Gustavo Quintero, vice president of the Plan Foundation.
Therefore, one of the recommendations made by Valientes Colombia is for adults to become digitally literate.
“We’re surprised that parents and teachers don’t know social media or its lingo and therefore don’t know how it works or what can happen there. Being very protective makes them think that the boy or girl is safe, but they don’t know that when they hand them the mobile phone to watch games or videos, there are chats. So a learning approach is preferable to teach them to identify the risks,” says Jaramillo.
The Save The Children organization emphasizes the importance of communication and affective-sexual educationtogether with the support of the environment closest to the minors.
And similarly, ICBF’s My Hands Teach You program recommends that guardians of minors “be open to providing the necessary support to prevent and treat these cases. If you avoid these problems, the only thing you will achieve is to alienate the minor and expose him to the danger of grooming, “said in a post on his portal.
These subjects have guides and detailed information so that mothers, fathers, and teachers can consult the characteristics of grooming in depth and learn not only to identify it, but also to address it with their children.
“It’s very important for parents to know that there are organizations that can help them with free tuition and even support if their family is going through one of these situations,” says Jaramillo.
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