The College wants to stress the necessity for parents to be extra vigilant in relation to online safety and ensure that your child is safe online.
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in young people being targeted by sexual predators online – predators who request images and videos of an explicit nature. This then inevitably leads to blackmail and the potential grooming of your child. Please stress to your child that it is not normal for a complete stranger to ask them for indecent images and that it is incredibly hard to undo the damage that will result if they respond and send such images to anybody – whether they are strangers or known to them. As a community we have to show empathy for the victims of such crimes but the important thing is for young people not to become victims in the first place.
If the College becomes aware of such an incident you will be informed alongside a report made to the police. Significant emotional harm is caused to the young person involved and we need to ensure that you as parents are able to reduce the risks to your child.
Please ensure that you are monitoring the activity of your child via the internet and mobile phone – for example delete any contacts on social media who are not known to you or your child. Many young people have accepted friend requests from people they have never had contact with in the real world. Please speak about this with your child and reinforce the online safety messages given regularly in College.
Equally remind your child that if they receive any inappropriate images they must report it to the police or CEOP, and ensure that they do not share this with anyone else or risk prosecution themselves. If they receive such images please remind them that, if they share them, they are further hurting people who have been hurt enough already and that they need to see these victims as people and not as images.
The College website includes many useful guides and documents that will support you in setting up privacy functions as well as links to key organisations that can help.
West Yorkshire Police also offer this advice to parents:
Surfing the internet can be an educational and fun family activity. Here’s a few tips for safer use of the internet:
- Check the advice on the Get Safe Online website.
- Check the advice on our Online Guides Pages.
- Place the computer in a central area of your home where you can monitor it frequently. Get your children used to involvement early. Ask what they’re looking at and finding, or who they’re visiting.
- Establish age-appropriate ground rules, including time limits, acceptable areas to access and reasonable penalties – such as denying internet access – if the rules are broken.
- Use blocking and filtering programs available as software or online. They will enable you to monitor or limit your children’s net access. Ask your Internet Service Provider for advice, and see below for details about the Internet Watch Foundation.
- Warn your children frequently about the dangers of the internet, just as you warn them about the dangers of drugs, talking to strangers etc.
- Explain the importance of keeping personal information a secret – real names, home address, phone number, sports clubs etc.
- Tell your children never to respond to an angry, obscene or threatening message. Remind them to call you or another trusted adult if they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Let them know that its not their fault if they receive bad messages.
- Be on the alert for signs of trouble:
- Overuse of the computer, especially at night.
- Bad or explicit language – your child learned it from somewhere, perhaps online.
- Obsession with violent fantasy games.
- Unexplained long distance numbers on your phone bill. Your child could be in contact with a stranger.
- Online friends; if you child makes online friends with another local child and asks if they can meet in person, first talk to the child’s parents. Set up a meeting with the other child and parent, make it at a public place and accompany your child.
- Report inappropriate online activities. Contact the police immediately if an adult (or a person you suspect to be posing as an adult) tries to set up a meeting with your child. This could be a very dangerous situation.
- Child Pornography. Report any online child pornography to your Internet Service Provider and to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF is funded by Internet service providers and takes reports from the public about child and grossly indecent adult pornography. They pass on information to the police about sites where criminal offences are taking place. Their website is www.iwf.org.uk
- Worried parents can also contact the IWF website for advice about how to set up "net nannies" to ensure their children aren’t viewing unsuitable sites.
- Thinuknow have a resource – Play Like Share This three-episode animated series and accompanying resource pack aims to help eight to ten year olds learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, exploitation and other risks they might encounter online such as sharing content.
Protect yourself and your equipment, purchase or download good virus protection software to safeguard your computer. Choose a password with a minimum of six characters – short passwords are easy for hackers to crack.