Scots Girl (12) Groomed Online For FGM
14 December 2015, 16:00
A dad whose 12-year-old was groomed online for female genital mutilation in Scotland has been speaking exclusively to Heart.
She thought she was chatting to girls her own age but it became something far more sinister.
Police and a leading children's charity have told us this kind of cyber abuse is new to them and very frightening.
The victim's father has asked to be kept anonymous.
"I noticed changes in her behaviour in terms of being less friendly, less sociable, very much more aggressive, very withdrawn and very defensive if anyone asked what she was doing with her computer.
"All of a sudden this wonderful, bright, vibrant child became a bit of a demon in the household and that made me even more determined to dig down and find out what was going down because I then realised this over-reaction, this very nasty over-reation, was something that was completely out of character.
"And not only that, there was an emotional element to it as well where she was very tearful, and I would even say fearful.
"And I thought to myself this is not someone who is just angry, this is someone who is scared."
It's not out of the ordinary for teenagers to want privacy, but what happens when that privacy begins to threaten their health and happiness?
This dad began to feel like he was losing his daughter - but didn't know why and went behind her laptop screen to find out.
When she was away one weekend he took her computer, and discovered she'd been speaking to someone on an art site who then invited her to a seperate chat room.
"They were talking about body piercings and body adornments, and then a photo was sent through showing, in quite graphic detail, female genital mutilation saying 'what's your verdict on this? Is this not just another form of body modification? Do you have a problem with this? Do you not think it's in some girls best interests to have this done?'
"I don't know of any 12 year old, 13 year old child that has that level of knowledge or that level of detail.
"And the next part of it then was, they were asking 'wouldn't it be great if we could meet?"
He decided to take matters into his own hands and confront the problem head on by messaging them for himself.
He revealed who he was, and said he was going to involve the police - and within a few minutes the profiles had both been deleted.
Four years later, the culprits have never been traced.
Now the family want to put it behind them but are telling their story to warn other parents and young people the very real danger.
"We all have an obligation here.
"There's a genuine responsibility, not just parents, but people who notice changes in kids - whether it's a teacher, the ice cream man or the lollipop person - if you see young people on a daily basis and you start seeing changes in behaviour it doesn't hurt to make somebody else aware of it because you may well be doing them the biggest favour possible.
"I know when I contronted my child, I didn't just do her a favour, I did myself a favour and hopefully further down the line I will of done other kids a favour by coming out and saying this happened to us, it can happen to you but more importantly, even as we are talking, it could be happening to somebody else."