Following the NSPCC press release today about the increase across the country of reports of child grooming offences online, our Internet Sex Offenders Team want offer advice to parents to help you keep your children safe online.
Detective Inspector Mike Leach said: “Whilst the number of reports that we have received has stayed roughly the same, we thought this would be a good opportunity to offer some safety advice.
“With more and more young people having smart phones and tablets with access to social media sites it is more important than ever to talk to your children about the dangers of socialising online.
“Discuss what they are doing online, what apps they are using and what they are using them for. It is also important to let them know that they can talk to you if they come across anything frightening or unpleasant or if they have done something they regret, for example sharing a photo.
“Make it clear that no one has the right to make them do something that they don’t want to and reassure them that you will be there to listen to them if they need help.
“Remind them not to accept friend requests unless they know the person in real life. It’s important to be clear that just because someone’s name or profile picture may look like someone their age, it could be anyone that has set that account up so they need to be really careful.
“I would also recommend considering setting up parental controls on your children’s accounts and regularly reviewing their privacy settings as well as monitoring what they are doing online.
“If you become aware that a child has been sending images to anyone or you have any concerns about people they’re speaking to online, please call us on our non-emergency 101 line.
“We understand the long term impact that this type of offence can have on young people and that’s why we take it so seriously.
“We have specialist teams who can investigate, putting measures in place to keep your child safe and protect them in the future – as well as arresting suspects and bringing offenders to justice.”
There’s lots of further useful help and advice available via Get Safe Online.