Hannah’s 11-year-old daughter was chatting with a friend on Facebook and was asked to turn on the webcam. She felt strange about it, but also obligated to do so. She used a teddy bear to hide herself.
An 11-year-old girl sitting in her bedroom, chatting online, a stuffed toy the only barrier between her and her predator.
Of course, she didn’t know he was a predator. His Facebook name was “Jack Smith”. They had 32 mutual friends. She guessed she must have known him. His profile picture was blurry, but it was definitely of a teenage boy wearing a school uniform.
“I didn’t want my daughter to have Facebook: the legal age is 13 and she was still only 11. Her older sister had it and all the kids at school were talking about it; she said she felt left out,” Hannah wrote for The Independent.
“She would pester me daily: ‘It’s not fair, Maddy has it, Kate has it, why can’t I have it? Please mum please mum please mum’.”
Hannah’s daughter thought she was sharing laughs and thoughts and emojis with a friend of her friends, Jack Smith. Until she turned the webcam on and saw an adult man masturbating while watching her holding up her teddy bear.
“My daughter’s first sexual experience was seeing the penis of a paedophile masturbating in her bedroom,” Hannah wrote.
“His method was simple yet highly effective. He managed to make ‘friends’ with other girls at her school and by the time he came to request my daughter, they had 32 mutual friends.”
Listen: The person who fought back after being sexually abused as a child. Post continues below.
The girl shut the computer. She signed off. But he kept going – this time through messages. Sexually abusive, explicit, horrible, awful messages sent from a man in his late 20s to a girl less than half his age.
Hannah found out when the police came knocking. Another mother had found “Jack Smith” on her daughter’s Facebook. She’d reported him. The police followed a trail that lead them to at least 38 other girls, Hannah’s daughter included.
“When the police read the messages to us it was hard to take in at first. A mixture of shock, disgust, bewilderment, despair and sadness all combined,” Hannah wrote.
“I failed to educate my daughter about the exact nature of how paedophiles work: Did I assume he would have been dressed up as The Big Bad Wolf with the words ‘sex offender’ tattooed onto his face? I felt very ashamed at my lack of awareness, I felt like a fool.”
Today, the results of a survey into the online habits of six-year-old children were released in the UK.