Calls to online child harassment hotline increase 60% during coronavirus

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The Communal Strengthening and Development Ministry reported that there has been a 60% increase in the amount of calls to the Child Online Protection Bureau’s 105 hotline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 70% of the incidents reported to the hotline were handled as criminal cases.The increase was between March and September and the numbers are in comparison to the same time last year. Some 1,660 minors, the majority of whom (57%) were girls, called the hotline. Most callers were between the ages of 13 and 16. The majority (66%) of those harmed online were girls and 74% of minors who harmed others online were boys. The site on which the most incidents were reported was Instagram, with 30% of complaints stemming from incidents on the platform. The platform where the second highest number of incidents occurred was WhatsApp, with 24% of complaints reporting incidents on the popular messaging application. Communal Strengthening and Development Minister Orly Levy-Abecassis expressed concern about the increase in reports saying, “the [online] space is a dangerous place for youth and children. It is our job as parents to open our eyes and ears to everything going on in this place and of course to turn to the 105 hotline in any suspicious cases.”The Child Online Protection Bureau is a joint force of police and government organizations that works to keep children and youth safe online. The 105 hotline call center is staffed by police officers trained to answer questions and take reports of harm, violence and crime affecting minors online.

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