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TikTok dance challenge shows how easy it is to miss the signs of online grooming

Check before you chat

TikTok dance challenge with hidden message shows how easy it is to miss the signs of online grooming.

To mark International Missing Children's Day on 25 May, AMBER Alert Europe, non-governmental organisations in the field of child protection and law enforcement officers from around the globe involve influencers in the fight against online grooming with a cryptic TikTok dance challenge.

A seemingly ordinary TikTok dance challenge was launched by various well-known influencers around the globe. Now, it is revealed that this viral dance challenge was in fact staged to educate teenagers on the signs of online grooming. The challenge kicks off a global prevention campaign, #CheckBeforeYouChat, by missing children's foundation AMBER Alert Europe that brought together NGOs, law enforcement officers and influencers worldwide to fight the alarming increase in online grooming cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused social isolation, leading to an alarming increase in online grooming cases. Online grooming is when an adult befriends children online and builds their trust, often leading to sexual abuse, both online and in-person.

Earlier this month, the song "Love Birds", secretly containing the five stages of online grooming in its lyrics, was officially released on TikTok (an app very popular among young people) along with a choreographed dance which interpreted the song into a 5-step dance challenge. With the help of well-known dancers on the TikTok circuit, the 5-step dance challenge was replicated by thousands of unsuspecting TikTokers worldwide.

Right before International Missing Children's Day, which serves as a symbolic kick-off date, the second part of the campaign was set in motion. This time, dancers and campaign partners posted videos of themselves standing still and revealing the true meaning behind the TikTok challenge.

"Even though the signs were right in front of them, they still didn't notice what was going on", says Frank Hoen, Chairman and Founder of AMBER Alert Europe. "This is exactly what happens with online grooming. Often the signs remain unnoticed until it's too late. We want to make sure children are aware of the fact that online not everything is what it seems and they should be wary of who they communicate with on social media, apps or games. Always #CheckBeforeYouChat."

Caroline O'Neill, Gateshead Council's Director of Care, Wellbeing and Learning said: "Online grooming is a threat in Gateshead and worldwide. At the time of the pandemic, where children are online even more than usual, this threat has increased. There are approximately 750k predators online each day.

"Tik Tok is the new trend among teens and even younger children and was the most popular app downloaded globally in 2020. While the platform allows a lot of fun and creative output, it's huge popularity comes with dangers that need to be highlighted to young people, and their parents. It's important for everyone to know how to recognise the signs and report online grooming and also how to get support. That's why Gateshead Council has joined with @AmberAlertEU, and others, for this global prevention campaign. #CheckBeforeYouChat."

Find out more about check before you chat 

Check before you chat
25 May 2021

TikTok dance challenge with hidden message shows how easy it is to miss the signs of online grooming.

To mark International Missing Children's Day on 25 May, AMBER Alert Europe, non-governmental organisations in the field of child protection and law enforcement officers from around the globe involve influencers in the fight against online grooming with a cryptic TikTok dance challenge.

A seemingly ordinary TikTok dance challenge was launched by various well-known influencers around the globe. Now, it is revealed that this viral dance challenge was in fact staged to educate teenagers on the signs of online grooming. The challenge kicks off a global prevention campaign, #CheckBeforeYouChat, by missing children's foundation AMBER Alert Europe that brought together NGOs, law enforcement officers and influencers worldwide to fight the alarming increase in online grooming cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused social isolation, leading to an alarming increase in online grooming cases. Online grooming is when an adult befriends children online and builds their trust, often leading to sexual abuse, both online and in-person.

Earlier this month, the song "Love Birds", secretly containing the five stages of online grooming in its lyrics, was officially released on TikTok (an app very popular among young people) along with a choreographed dance which interpreted the song into a 5-step dance challenge. With the help of well-known dancers on the TikTok circuit, the 5-step dance challenge was replicated by thousands of unsuspecting TikTokers worldwide.

Right before International Missing Children's Day, which serves as a symbolic kick-off date, the second part of the campaign was set in motion. This time, dancers and campaign partners posted videos of themselves standing still and revealing the true meaning behind the TikTok challenge.

"Even though the signs were right in front of them, they still didn't notice what was going on", says Frank Hoen, Chairman and Founder of AMBER Alert Europe. "This is exactly what happens with online grooming. Often the signs remain unnoticed until it's too late. We want to make sure children are aware of the fact that online not everything is what it seems and they should be wary of who they communicate with on social media, apps or games. Always #CheckBeforeYouChat."

Caroline O'Neill, Gateshead Council's Director of Care, Wellbeing and Learning said: "Online grooming is a threat in Gateshead and worldwide. At the time of the pandemic, where children are online even more than usual, this threat has increased. There are approximately 750k predators online each day.

"Tik Tok is the new trend among teens and even younger children and was the most popular app downloaded globally in 2020. While the platform allows a lot of fun and creative output, it's huge popularity comes with dangers that need to be highlighted to young people, and their parents. It's important for everyone to know how to recognise the signs and report online grooming and also how to get support. That's why Gateshead Council has joined with @AmberAlertEU, and others, for this global prevention campaign. #CheckBeforeYouChat."

Find out more about check before you chat 

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