Children should not be left alone in their bedroom with a computer for hours on end, says Laura Perrins, or you may as well be leaving them in a room full of paedophiles – especially after the latest Facebook paedophile case.
If ever a parent needed convincing as to why children and teenagers should not have a computer in their bedroom the case of Callum Evans is exhibit number one. Mr Evans was caught two years ago trying to use Facebook to contact young boys to molest them and then he returned to the site to try and intice teenagers to send him pornographic photos of themselves.
Mr Evans appeared before Judge Hume Jones in 2011 after using Facebook to encourage boys to send naked photos of themselves. Mr Evans received a community order. He was not banned from using Facebook as the Judge said this would deprive him of the ‘social traffic’ his peers took for granted. It seems that the Judge was more concerned with elevating Mr Evans’ access to Facebook to the status of a human right, than protecting other children and teenagers from being sexually groomed. Sure enough, weeks after being convicted, Evans created a new alias on Facebook, which he used to pose as a teenage girl to convince other teenagers to send him pornographic photos of themselves.
Yesterday Evans, 21, came before the same Judge and admitted 17 charges of inciting a child to engage in pornography and four counts of inciting a child to engage in a sexual act. Is he holding up the wall of a cell somewhere after such a blatant breach of trust placed in him by the Judge? Well, no. Judge Hume Jones again did not impose a custodial sentence and again did not ban him from using Facebook as this would be “particularly excessive”. He would lose his ‘social traffic’ don’t you remember?
Patrick Mason, mitigating, said Evans had lost his chance of going to university because of his crime and had responded well to treatment. He said: “In essence, there is a single pattern of behaviour, committed for two years between the age of 18 and 20, and due in part to the somewhat addictive nature of the internet. It has now stopped because of the treatment programme he has been on. He is a much-changed young man.”
When I explain to friends that I intend to always have computers in the family room downstairs and never in the children’s bedroom, they used to think this was harsh. But then they did not previously represent someone, as I did during my days as a barrister, who was charged with holding 5,000 indecent images of children on his computer – and he was only discovered because he was cultivating a cannabis farm in his living room.
By Laura Perrins