Children as young as 10 in the Humberside force area have been targeted by men looking to engage in sexual chat via social networking.
Officers from the force Cyber Crime unit are investigating reports that a number of teenagers in North East Lincolnshire and 10 and 11-year-olds in East Yorkshire have been approached via video chat app ooVoo.
Some have been initially befriended, before being encouraged to engage in sexual conversation. In other cases the victims have been approached whilst being involved in group chat.
In these cases the victims have then been asked to send naked pictures of themselves or have been sent explicit video footage.
Parents are today being urged to talk to their children about the potential dangers of the online world, in order to prevent others being targeted.
Superintendent Phillip Ward said: “When it comes to staying safe online, prevention is key. However, if you believe you have been targeted by an offender, it is important that you come forward.
“I would urge parents to intrusively monitor what their children are doing online and to talk to them about any issues they are concerned about – be that being aware of online sexual predators or those with extremist views looking to radicalise young people.
“Having those conversations and maintaining an open dialogue with children is a vital tool in protecting them from the potential dangers of the online world.”
A fact sheet for parents from Think You Know detailing what ooVoo is, how it works and what to do if they have concerns, is available to download from the force website.
Other key things to discuss with your children are:
- Not everyone online is who they claim to be.
- Don’t ‘friend’ people you don’t know in real life. You don’t know who they really are or what their intentions are.
- Be wary of using private chat rooms and don’t enter into sexual exchanges.
- Never meet up with someone you have befriended online without taking along a parent or other responsible adult.
- Don’t respond to messages that are provocative or threatening.
- If someone is aggressive or inappropriate online, most social networking sites have tools to help you block or delete that person.
- Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help if you need it. Acting quickly can limit the damage if you have sent out something you regret.
- Remember your family and other professionals want to ensure you are safe. Let them know all the facts so they can help you.
- If you are worried you have been groomed or coerced, report it to the police and to CEOP
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘Everyone’ been able to find and add you as a friend and send you messages
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent search engines finding your account profile
- Change your social media account security settings to prevent ‘Everyone’ from being able to view your posts, view the posts you have been tagged in and the posts that you have shared.
- Consider changing your social media account security settings so the location data is not publicly available
For more information, visit Get Safe Online or Cyber Security – Has It Clicked?