Oculus virtual reality headset used to groom child in Worcester | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

The school-aged child was contacted through Oculus – a software most often used to play virtual reality (VR) games.

Worcestershire County Council said it is supporting the child’s school and the police with their investigations.

Children can enjoy virtual reality games with the headset but parents have been warned that they can also access “dangerous worlds” which are being exploited by groomers.

Through VR, children can be taken into other “worlds” with the child reportedly being groomed through “Disk World”.

Kidderminster Shuttle: DANGER: Parents have been warned about the danger of allowing their children to use a VR headset.DANGER: Parents have been warned about the danger of allowing their children to use a VR headset. (Image: PA)

The young victim disabled parental controls after being coerced by the groomer. 

Once disabled, the child was able to access the dangerous sites and upload images and videos of themselves onto the software.

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council, said: “We take all safeguarding concerns extremely seriously and provide advice and support to all our schools regarding keeping pupils safe online.

“We are aware of a recent incident at one of our schools and we are supporting the school and the police with their investigations into this matter.”

Kate Edwards Acting Associate Head for Child Safety Online at the NSPCC, said parents need to be aware of the risks young users face when given access to an “unregulated world.”

She added: “But this responsibility should not just be on parents.

“Tech companies must do more to ensure the safety of children on existing products as well as for ones they roll out in the future.

“And the Government needs to deliver a robust Online Safety Bill that accounts for advancements in technology and ensures new devices and platforms are created with child protection at their heart.”

West Mercia Police has been approached for a comment but has not replied before the Worcester News went to press.

NSPCC advice for using VR headsets: 

  • Make the headset a family activity.
  • Take some time to explore the headset before allowing a child to use it.
  • Talk to children about how they use VR. Make sure they know that personal information should not be shared with people they don’t know.
  • Get to know the safety features the device offers.
  • Make sure the location is set to private, use parental controls and check that privacy settings are switched on.
  • Set healthy boundaries and manage your child’s screen time.

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