Award-winning Czech documentary film highlights the scale of online grooming

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By Euronews
The film was reshown in Germany on Thursday for one day only.
The film was reshown in Germany on Thursday for one day only.   -  Copyright  'CAUGHT IN THE NET' - ČESKÁ TELEVIZE

An award-winning Czech documentary film has highlighted the dangerous scale of online grooming.

"Caught in the Net" features three actresses, pretending to be teenage girls on social media, who are contacted by numerous paedophiles for nude photos.

The makers of the film say they posed as 12-year-old girls to try and expose sexual predators and their tactics.

The film quickly became the country's best-grossing documentary and was named Best Documentary at the 2021 Czech Lion Awards.

Producer Pavla Klimešová told Euronews that they were initially approached by an internet service provider to make a 10-minute viral video.

But after initially only creating one fake profile to lure predators, they soon realised the dangerous scale of online grooming.

"We were expecting someone to maybe approach us online after five days," Klimešová told Euronews.

"When we opened the computer after five hours, we found out that we had been approached by 86 different predators, from the age of 26 to 68 years old."

The filmmakers then decided to produce a longer independent documentary, and in ten days their fake profiles were approached by 2,500 predators.

"We knew the problem was bigger than any 10-minute video could cover," said Klimešová, "the results that we saw were really shocking".

The 2020 film, by Vít Klusák, was also shared internationally and was shown in German cinemas for one day on Thursday.

"Caught in the Net" won Best Documentary prize at the Czech Lion Awards.'CAUGHT IN THE NET' - ČESKÁ TELEVIZE

Some of the online predators tried to befriend the fake online profiles created by the film's producers, earning their trust before asking for naked photos.

"Sometimes even after hours, they start to mail and ask for nude photos," Klimešová said.

"They say if you [the girls] don't send me more, I'm going to print it and put it outside your school and send it to all your friends on Facebook."

"We know that these predators are trying to meet girls and boys in person. It doesn't only end online but can also happen for the worse in real life," she added.

"The main thing [for parents] is to talk about online safety with children."