Protecting children online is an area that Microsoft has always been deeply committed to. With Child Sexual Exploitation and child related crimes on the rise in the UK, it is important now more than ever before for industry, Government, the education community and others to work together to tackle this. Today, Barnardo’s is launching an app in partnership with Microsoft which is aimed at helping children make informed decisions and understanding what the signs are around Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
Part of the challenge is that CSE is a difficult issue to spot. Professionals who work with young people do not always identify it and young people themselves frequently do not recognise themselves as abused. Given that both professionals and victims can fail to recognise exploitation and that there is no national referral or reporting system, any approximated figure to understand the scale of the problem is likely to be significantly underestimated.
The ‘Wud U’ app which has launched today is aimed at drawing attention to the issue and helping practitioners and children broach the subject of CSE and talk more openly about it. It’s about awareness, guidance and education.
Protecting children is a shared responsibility. Technology companies, law enforcement, teachers, governments, charities and especially parents, all have a role to play. Microsoft has a long history of child online protection initiatives and we have been working with Barnardo’s for many years. Microsoft is also working with UK Youth and CEOP to ensure professionals working with young people are aware of the app and we are encouraging everyone to download and share the app.
Barnardo’s director Michelle Lee-Izu said:
“A vital part of empowering children to protect themselves against sexual exploitation is getting young people to think for themselves which scenarios might put them at risk. We want all children to be able to identify what a healthy relationship looks like, so that when they are with a partner, at a party or just chatting on-line they make good decisions.
“We are delighted to have been able to produce this innovative educational app in partnership with Microsoft. Our aspiration is that ‘Wud U?’ will become an indispensable tool in educating the young about the risk of child sexual exploitation.”