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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Police going into Cumbria schools to warn of online dangers to children

CUMBRIA Police are urging young people to stay safe online as they are increasingly exposed to the dangers of cyberbullying and child sexual exploitation.

Officers across the county regularly visit schools to teach children and young people about the risks of sending or receiving indecent images, and other dangers.

Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery said: “It is vital that young people understand the dangers involved in going online, so we work with local schools to directly warn these children.

“Some of the key issues we address cover things like the importance of privacy settings, the serious impact cyberbullying can have, and how once something is uploaded, or sent via the internet, you have lost control of it forever.

“As well as young people understanding the risks, it is equally important that parents are aware of who their child is communicating with online, and keep up-to-date with the latest technologies.

“It is just as important to protect your child in the ‘online’ world as it is in the ‘real’ world. Most parents wouldn’t let their child physically spend the night talking to a complete stranger, but that is exactly what is happening online.”

Mr Peter Davison, Headteacher from Victoria Junior School, Barrow, said:

“Children are using a growing variety of social media. While the majority of these are innocent, we must be vigilant in keeping children safe by educating them as to the procedures to follow whilst interacting online.”

Mrs Julie Evan, Assistant Principle at Whitehaven Academy, said:

“The safety and wellbeing of our students is a priority at all times. It is important to ensure that students have a knowledge and awareness of the dangers that inappropriate use of the internet can lead to and that they can be victims of cybercrime.

“The internet offers wonderful opportunities to communicate with others but children can be lulled into a false sense of security and can be vulnerable to those who prey on them; with education they have a greater chance to protect themselves and know what to do if they feel unsafe. Students have also learnt that they have a responsibility to use their smart phones and the internet responsibly so they do not find themselves in trouble with the police.

“Often they think this can only happen to someone else and PC Hunton's message was that this can happen to anyone, is happening in West Cumbria and that by being aware they will be safe. It was well received by all students.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said:

“I fully support the Constabulary’s initiative, and urge all youngsters and their parents to understand the potential risks of using the internet. There are so many ways to interact with the internet nowadays that being aware of the pitfalls should help youngsters stay safe online, and give their parents peace of mind.”

Top tips for parents include:

- Stay up-to-date. Ask about your child’s new gadgets, apps and websites – it is important to be aware of new technologies and developments that your child may be using

- Set boundaries. Treat the online world as you would the ‘real’ world – consider what or who they may see, share and communicate with, as well as how long they spend online

- Know what connects to the internet and how. Today many technologies connect to the internet – including TVs and games consoles. Check how they are accessing the internet – if it is through a neighbour’s Wifi, your security settings may not be applied

- Cyber-bullying can be very distressing and upsetting – talk to your child regularly about their experiences, both online and offline

Useful advice for parents can be found here: www.vodafone.com/parents

Useful advice for young people can be found here: www.thinkuknow.co.uk

For more information about staying safe online please visit www.cumbria.police.uk/onlinesafety

More internet safety advice can be found on the Government’s ‘Cyberstreet’ website: www.cyberstreetwise.com

End

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