POLICE in Bromsgrove are pleading with parents to get up to speed with their children’s use of the internet in a bid to beat cyber bullying, sexting and online grooming.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to bullying, harassment, being groomed and as they get older being under pressure to send indecent images of themselves to others,” said PC Rich Waterhouse.
He said there were cases of children with 2,000 ‘friends’ or more on ‘Facebook, Snap chat, Instagram and other social media and if that was the case, parents had to take action.
“Does your child really have 2,000 friends? No, they do not know 2,000 people. Sit down with your children go through all their ‘friends’ and everyone they have not met delete them,” said PC Waterhouse.
“I have recently dealt with a situation where children were being groomed on their social media by a person who claimed to be a 15-year-old.
“He groomed the children into sending indecent images of themselves.
“Needless to say this person was not who he appeared to be and was in fact an adult male,” said PC Waterhouse.
“These situations happen across the country on a daily basis and it is happening in our homes where we should be safe.”
He added that one of the problems was that parents had little idea of what their children were doing on the internet or who they were in contact with.
“I would say to parents if you are not on social media, get on it, learn all about it and find out what your children are doing on it. Also make sure that you are fully up to date on the privacy settings because anyone can pretend to be a 15-year-old.”
Another issue was cyber bullying with a study by MacAfee in 2014 finding that online bullying had doubled in 12 months with 35 per cent of 11- to 17-year-olds revealing they had been victims.
“Online bullying is not pleasant and it can be devastating. The message is you do not have to suffer in silence. There are people out there who are ready and willing to help you,” said PC Waterhouse, who has been touring schools and youth clubs urging young people to take care on the internet.
He recommends the following websites for parents to keep their children safe:
www.westmercia.police.uk/becybersmart, www.ceop.co.uk, www.thinkyouknow.co.uk