Mainstream Contributors To Sexual Exploitation
Among the blocks and buildings, kids may be exposed to predators and inappropriate content.
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
The abuser coaxed him to move to other apps like Discord and Twitter, where the grooming continued. In December 2022, he was kidnapped, taken across state lines, and sexually assaulted before the authorities intervened and thankfully brought him home.
Tragically, this is not an isolated incident – since Roblox’s inception, countless children have been sexually abused and exploited by predators they met on Roblox.
Children are also exposed to highly sexualized content and themes – children’s avatars have been raped, “condo” games revolve around sex (interactive pornography), and kids can enter virtual “strip clubs.” These are prime areas for grooming and they also normalize this type of activity to children. While these incidences happen in the virtual world, the negative effects on kids is devastatingly real.
How is it possible that a $2.2 billion platform with children under age 13 comprising the largest demographic (and therefore a substantial percentage of revenue) has not embraced common sense child protection measures? Roblox should be leading the industry in the highest safety standards – but instead, it’s leaving young users at grave risk on a platform many parents and kids themselves assume is safe.
It is long past time for Roblox to truly place child protection at the forefront and to make the platform safe by default and design – rather than continuously pushing more of the burden onto parents – and young children themselves – to try to monitor a platform with more than 40 million games.
Roblox, stop treating children protection like a game.
Review the proof we’ve collected, read our recommendations for improvement, and see our notification letter to Roblox for more details.
Child sexual abuse and grooming have long been a threat on Roblox. A simple Google search easily yields results about grooming and exploitation occurring on the platform. The following are just a few news stories about predatory adults accessing children through Roblox:
S.U.’s childhood was supposed to be filled with innocent fun, but instead, it was marred by the heinous actions of predators lurking on the Roblox platform. Despite her mother’s watchful eye, S.U. was targeted by not one, but two adult men who manipulated, exploited, and abused her through the game. These predators used Roblox as a hunting ground for vulnerable children, and the company did nothing to stop them.
The two predators targeting S.U. may have been the most overt abusers, but S.U. was bombarded with sexual advances from other adult players too. Roblox’s supposed monitoring tools for inappropriate, dangerous behavior seem to only apply to swearing and fighting, not the rampant sexual predation happening on your watch. And when S.U. tried to reach out for help, she found none.
The toll of this abuse on S.U. is immeasurable. It drove her to attempt suicide twice. She has been stripped of her childhood and her mental health continues to suffer. Her mother struggles every day to get her daughter the help she needs, all while fighting for justice against the company that failed to protect her daughter.
S.U.’s story is a heartbreaking reminder that we cannot let companies like Roblox prioritize profits over the safety of our children. We must demand accountability and change to ensure that no child suffers like S.U. did.
At the tender age of 13, a Utah boy was lured into a trap on your platform, an app that his parents trusted to be safe for their child. But behind the facade of child-friendly graphics and colorful characters, a predator was lurking, preying on vulnerable children like him. With cunning tactics and false promises, the abuser persuaded him to migrate to other apps, including Discord and Twitter, where the grooming continued to take place in the shadows.
Then came the unthinkable. One day, the boy was suddenly snatched away and taken across state lines before the authorities finally intervened. The trauma that he and his family have been forced to endure is nothing short of a living nightmare. Their once happy home has been shattered into a million pieces, and the boy’s life will never be the same again.
This tragedy occurred just in the past six months prior to the Dirty Dozen List launch.
And it could have been avoided if Roblox had taken a stronger stance against the presence of adult predators on your platform. While the company may tout its commitment to safety, these bold statements have proven hollow in the face of frequent incidents of abuse. It’s past time for Roblox to step up and protect the innocent children who use your platform before another tragedy like this one occurs.
Roblox’s policies prohibit sexualized themes and activities, however, there are hundreds of games with sexually explicit themes, including strip clubs, dance clubs, “Condo Experiences,” and more. Child accounts by default have access to all of these experiences. (This article in Rolling Stone addresses the “virtual strip clubs” on Roblox.)
Many youth have reported innocently visiting “condo experiences” only to be encouraged to visit someone’s “home,” go into the “bedroom,” and then engage in virtual sexual acts. Other children innocently wander around the games and stumble on this activity. NCOSE researchers created a 10-year-old account on Roblox and were easily exposed to inappropriate content, as shown in the screenshots below.
Children of any age are allowed to create accounts; no email and no parental permission is required. By default, Roblox sets young child accounts to:
It is unacceptable that even with all of the documented harms, Roblox still does not automatically default settings for children to the safest measures.
The “parental controls” Roblox does offer are inadequate. They don’t offer protection against some of the most basic risks (allowing parents to blacklist or whitelist specific games or stopping adult strangers from friending kids) and where they do offer some solutions, they are not comprehensive. Instead, Roblox’s parental controls create a false sense of security for parents who trust it. For example, many parents believe they are disabling chatting, but are not told that it only stops some forms of chatting and that adults can still communicate with kids through certain games.
Likewise, parents are not told that anyone can “friend” their child when they set chatting to be only with friends.
Roblox users and their parents deserve transparency and accountability. We need to know the truth to keep kids safe.
Roblox must provide effective parental controls. The following are some of the flaws with Roblox’s current tools:
It is not enough to rely on parents to monitor their children’s activity on the platform when Roblox has a duty to implement strong and effective measures to prevent these heinous crimes.
Fortnite and Minecraft
Both are extremely popular games that have also come under fire for sexual predators accessing children and kids being exposed to harmful content. Learn more about both platforms and how to turn on available parental controls at Protect Young Eyes.