One of the highest priorities parents have is keeping their children safe. They can walk them to school and back, make sure they’re hanging out with the ‘right crowd’, and keep their bodies healthy by feeding them nutritional food. But even the watchful eyes of a mother can’t always protect children from the animosity and danger of the Internet.
That is why the U.K. based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, or CEOP, have urged Facebook to install a “panic button”. Such a feature would enable children who feel victimized or threatened to report abuse, directing reports immediately to a child protection specialist who would assess the situation, presumably to decide if it warrants intervention.
As of Tuesday, April 13th, Facebook announced that its 23 million users in the United Kingdom would be able to reach CEOP through Facebook’s own reporting system, though CEOP maintains that even more improvement is needed.
“We believe that — without the deterrence provided by direct visible access to the CEOP button on each and every page — children will not be appropriately empowered, parents cannot be reassured and the offender will not be deterred,” said Jim Gamble, chief executive of CEOP.
CEOP’s link is hidden deep inside Facebook’s safety center, which means that several clicks and some scrounging around the website would be needed in order for an emotionally distressed, jittery child or teenager to report that he or she has been abused.
Calls for a panic button intensified after the murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall of the U.K., who was lured by 33-year-old Peter Chapman to meet in person. Chapman had disguised himself as a young man on Facebook, gaining Hall’s trust and friendship.
“We know from offenders that a button would be a visible deterrent. Everyone benefits from this. It is a free independent means of safe-guarding their customers.”
Hopefully, Facebook’s attempts to make their website safer for people in the U.K. will spill over to benefit Facebook users around the world.