Do you know who your children are speaking to online?
During lockdown, many of us are turning online to stay in touch and this goes for children as well as adults. Sadly, some criminals are using these extraordinary circumstances as a way to exploit and target young people when they are online.
Thames Valley Police have seen an increase in reports of online sexual abuse involving children since movement restrictions were introduced and are urging parents to take this opportunity to have honest conversations about online safety with their children and to review privacy settings on the apps and social networks that they are using.
To support parents during COVID-19, the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection division are producing fortnightly activity packs to help discuss staying safe online with your children. These age-appropriate resources, containing two 15-minute activities for each age group, can be found at www.thinkuknow.co.uk
Useful information and links
Background Information – online sexual abuse is any type of sexual abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, online gaming or using mobile phones. In some cases this involves children being groomed or exploited by an adult. Any child or young person that uses the internet or has a smartphone could be a victim of online abuse regardless of their age, gender or background. Reports of online child sexual abuse in the Thames Valley area were 146% higher in March 2020 in comparison with March 2019. We want to warn young people that those they are speaking to may not be who they say they are and to help parents and carers take action in protecting their children from falling victim to online sexual abuse.