A North Carolina mother was petrified after her 7-year-old daughter showed her a graphic sexual assault she witnessed while using a multiplayer online game creation platform called Roblox.
Even worse than simply seeing the scene was the fact that is was the young child’s own avatar that was “violently gang-raped on a playground” in the game, mother Amber Peterson explained in a Facebook post about her daughter’s horrific experience.
The simulated assault was perpetrated by two male avatars.
“Words cannot describe the shock, disgust, and guilt that I am feeling right now,” the mother wrote, “but I’m trying to put those feelings aside so I can get this warning out to others as soon as possible.”
Petersen went on to explain that, though she was able to shield her daughter from seeing the entire scene, she can’t fathom “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 Variety, Roblox hosts more than 50 million users each month. Roblox users can, much like Minecraft players, create their own worlds and games inside the platform. Because of the freedoms the platform offers, it’s easy for children to be exposed to inappropriate content.
Petersen said her daughter was exposed to the age-inappropriate content despite the fact she “adjusted the security settings to maximum privacy.”
A spokesperson for the Roblox Corporation said the company is “outraged” to learn the game’s rules of conduct were “subverted.” The statement also noted the player responsible for the graphic scene has been “permanently banned” from Roblox:
“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. In addition, the offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game. We have zero tolerance for this behavior. Our work to ensure a safe platform is always evolving and remains a top priority for us.”
It’s difficult, though, to manage the platform. In 2017 alone, 11 million titles were published with “more than 1,500 generating 1+ million visits during the year,” according to a press release from the gaming company.