Group chats on WhatsApp and other messengers are a popular means of communication to stay in touch with friends and classmates. Not only are everyday things discussed, but also inadmissible content is shared carelessly. Most of those involved are not aware of the criminal consequences.
The newly published police crime statistics 2022 show that there is a renewed increase of 7.9% compared to 2021 in the offense area "distribution of pornographic writings". In this context, around 41% of the suspects are under 18 years of age.
It is important to educate children and young people about the legal consequences and ethical limits of online communication.
- Educate children and young people that the distribution of child, youth and animal pornography is a criminal offense. Anyone who finds or receives such content is obliged to report this immediately to the criminal investigation department. Important: Do not make any screenshots, as possession of child pornography is a criminal offense!
- Explain the possible consequences. Even if children under 14 are not of age to commit a crime, this does not protect them from a house search by the police. In this case, all media devices (cell phone, tablet, laptop, game consoles, etc.) will be confiscated and evaluated. Juveniles over the age of 14 must expect a conviction under juvenile criminal law. In some circumstances, parents or guardians may also face legal consequences, for example if the cell phone contract is in their name.
- Make important security settings on the smartphone together with your child. For the messenger WhatsApp, for example, this means deactivating the automatic download of media: Settings > Data and storage usage > Automatic download of media
Set the privacy so that foreign contacts cannot add your child's cell phone number to a WhatsApp group: Settings > Account > Privacy > Groups
- Discuss that group invitations from strangers should generally not be accepted. Just joining a group can constitute a criminal offense of possessing child pornography by automatically downloading image and video files. Groups can also be reported directly to WhatsApp.
- Prepare adolescents for the fact that even harmless-looking videos can hide cruel content. The preview image may have been manipulated to disguise the true content. Therefore, videos should only be opened by trustworthy people.
- Victims of sexual violence often suffer years later from images of the abuse circulating on the Internet. Talk to children in an age-appropriate manner about the fact that the dissemination of abuse images is prohibited out of respect for the victims.