Editor’s note: This post has been updated
Amber Petersen was reading to her daughter one morning in late June while the seven-year-old played on her iPad. In the middle of her recitation, the young girl interrupted her to show her what was going on in her Roblox game. That’s when Petersen saw her daughter’s avatar being “violently gang-raped.”
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“At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” the Raleigh, N.C., mom wrote in a Facebook post. “My sweet and innocent daughter’s avatar was being VIOLENTLY GANG-RAPED ON A PLAYGROUND by two males. A female observer approached them and proceeded to jump on her body at the end of the act. Then the 3 characters ran away, leaving my daughter’s avatar laying on her face in the middle of the playground.”
The mom immediately took the iPad away from her daughter and took screenshots of the scene so that she could warn other parents of the potential content their children could encounter in the game.
Despite having taken safety measures with her daughter’s account, like blocking friend requests and outside chats, Petersen wanted other parents to know that this content is still accessible to children of all ages.
“Although I was immediately able to shield my daughter from seeing the entire interaction, I am shuddering to think of what kind of damage this image could have on her psyche, as well as any other child that could potentially be exposed to this.”
According to the website, Roblox (which is similar to Minecraft) is the largest user-generated online gaming platform and the No. 1 site for teens and kids that counts upwards of 50 million players per month. In it, people can create their own avatars, worlds and scenarios, and interact with other users.
Unfortunately, some user-created content isn’t suitable for children, although the site describes it as a “family-friendly, immersive, 3D environment.”
This isn’t the first time a parent has been appalled by what their child has encountered while playing Roblox. In early June, a mother in Sydney was sitting with her six-year-old daughter as she played Roblox when something unusual caught her eye.
“Luckily, I was sitting next to her and noticed out of the corner of my eyes that one of the characters breasts so it made me look closer,” she told Kidspot.
It turned out that her daughter had been invited into a “sex room” by a stranger and the scene depicted numerous graphic sex acts.
“Luckily she had absolutely no idea what she was looking at. But I would hate to think about what would have been said to her.”
She immediately reported the room to the game’s programmers and it was removed from the platform, but it still left the mom shaken.
“We have taught about stranger danger before so we just explained that they were not kids like her and that they were actually adults being naughty,” she said. “We have also changed her security settings to avoid it happening again.”
Unfortunately, this is a relatively common occurrence in the game. A scroll through YouTube reveals sexual content and violent themes, including a school shooting. Users get around the filters by misspelling codes that are banned, like using “shex” instead of “sex.”
A spokesperson for Roblox contacted Global News with the following statement:
“We were outraged to learn that Roblox’s community policies and rules of conduct were subverted. We have identified how this bad actor created the offending action and are putting additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future. The offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game. We have zero tolerance for this behaviour.”
“In addition, we have spoken with the mother who posted on Facebook about her daughter’s experience and are grateful for her willingness to work with us to educate parents about online safety in the digital world. Our work in ensuring the highest level of safety on Roblox remains our top priority.”
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