Omegle’s safety issues revealed

A SUPPORT worker told how 90 per cent of young people she works with have used a video website which connects strangers online.

Omegle, which links up random people to talk on screen or in text chats, has been criticised for its unsuitable content for youngsters.

A key point of the online safety programme delivered to Rotherham children is around understanding that once something is posted online, the poster loses control over it.

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Private photos, texts and videos can be shared with thousands of people – and even end up affecting a young person’s future job prospects.

Senior family support worker, Abigail Henser, who delivers presentations in the borough’s secondary schools, said: “The one that keeps coming up is Omegle. Omegle is a website that is designed to talk to strangers. Already, you have got that risk.

“Within a two-hour session that the BBC did, you had 12 masturbating males, some of those as young as 12, so then you have got kids looking at other kids, the issue of them watching child porn.

“When you have a conversation about Omegle, 90 per cent of every group I’ve done have been on and 100 per cent have heard about it.”

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Abigail told last week’s Improving Lives select commission meeting at Rotherham Town Hall: “We are doing a lot more work around prevention, early intervention and education because kids are all online but don’t understand what they are doing and their footprint.

“We talk about the law as well, and how it could impact their future.”

David McWilliams, RMBC’s assistant director for early help, said Abigail and her colleagues’ programme was homegrown and tailored for youngsters in the borough.

He added: “We realise that one of the things that’s probably of most concern to people around children and young people today is online content, and particularly we have picked up with schools a lot of the referrals around children and young people sharing indecent images.

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“We also know that’s a bit of a link in for exploitation of young people so there’s the additional concern that we have there.”

Omegle says moderation has been improved and has generated reports which have led to prosecutions.

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