Parents warned not to let children use chat room
PARENTS are being warned not to let their children use an anonymous online chat room which was used by a sex offender to groom a local child.
Antichat gives users access to more than 1.6 million people worldwide in thousands of different themed chat rooms. Those who use the site do not have to use their real names and it can be completely anonymous.
In Jersey’s Magistrate Court this week a 19-year-old man was sentenced to 180 hours’ community service for attempted sexual grooming and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for three years. Alecsandru-Moise Buta had originally started talking with a 14-year-old girl on Antichat when he turned the conversation to sexual matters. The young girl told her mother, who told Cheyenne O’Connor (24). Unbeknownst to Buta, Miss O’Connor took over the conversation and then passed the information to the police. During two days of conversations Buta asked for explicit images and to meet for sex.
The JEP has learned that the Antichat site is popular with some children, primarily teenagers, in Jersey.
Online safety website Cyber Security Cop is warning parents that the site’s ‘extensive anonymity’ can create risks for children.
Cyber Security Cop, which was created by American law enforcement expert Clayton Cranford, says: ‘Parents should know that Antichat’s anonymity encourages risk-taking and accountability-free behaviour that often brings out the worst in people. A brief search of the public chat rooms finds very adult-themed discussions and sexual predatory behaviour. Online sexual predators thrive in chat rooms that are anonymous.
‘Antichat users also have the ability to make private chat rooms. Since you can share images with strangers that you meet on Anti chat, these private chat rooms are the perfect place to share pornography or nude selfies.
‘Under no circumstances should a child be allowed to use Antichat or any anonymous chat room app.’
Speaking about the Buta sentencing, UK children’s charity the NSPCC said: ‘He was fully aware of her supposed age but continued with his despicable behaviour regardless – unaware that an adult had taken over the conversation. This kind of predatory offending ruins childhoods, with the devastating effects lasting into adulthood.’
Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline free of charge 24/7 on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.