Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children and youth have spent most of her time on social media over the past year. This made them vulnerable to the dangers of the online world.
Daeng* is a 14-year-old girl from Thailand’s Surat Thani province. As Daeng spent lot of time on the Internet, and she was groomed into attending "sex-phone video sessions". She was doing this kind of activity with multiple partners over video calls in Facebook Messenger and LINE. One of her “virtual” boyfriends who was 17-years-old had recorded her and started to blackmail her threatening to release the recording publicly if she would not send him more video clips of herself.
This pressure made her feel extremely stressed out and worried about the chance of her privacy being violated.
Daeng was not hopeless. Through her exposure to ChildLine’s #Voice4Change campaign about reporting cases of online sexual exploitation and abuse, she shared her issues with them through chat.
Daeng was provided with counselling while ChildLine developed and implemented a participatory action plan which eventually provided the support that she needed to overcome and address her highly stressful situation.
Social workers from ChildLine spoke to the young abuser and explained to him that he could be reported to the police on the basis of screenshots of the messages he had sent to Daeng when he was asking her for more intimate video clips.
Many children such as Daeng are being exploited and taken advantage-of due to their lack of awareness of online safety, especially during lockdowns caused by the pandemic. Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ Voice for Change project in Thailand aims to let these children and youth know about the resources that are available to them. For Daeng, she was able to recover and know that there is a support system that she can use whenever she is in need.