‘The internet’s fantastic, but kids must stay safe’ – Safer Internet Day marked by police and schools including Clifton’s Samuel Whitbread Academy

Beds police cadets mark Safer Internet Day.

Beds police cadets mark Safer Internet Day. - Credit: Archant

Parents should speak to their children about staying safe online – that’s the message from police in a world where kids can be groomed by adults without ever meeting them.

Beds police young people development officer Richard Denton and Samuel Whitbread Academy head Nick M

Beds police young people development officer Richard Denton and Samuel Whitbread Academy head Nick Martin. - Credit: Archant

Apps such as MyLol and Yellow allow users to virtually interact with people worldwide, and are marketed at teenagers – but with no age verification process, adult predators can use them to prey on young people.

And DCI Emma James of Bedfordshire Police has urged parents to strike up the conversation this week, in the spirit of Safer Internet Day – an annual event that took place on Tuesday.

“We know that it is not uncommon for people to use apps designed for teenagers to specifically target young people and groom them online, which is why we’re urging parents to strike up a conversation with their children,” said DCI James.

“Speak to your children about the websites and apps that they are using and set some ground rules with them, as well as checking their privacy settings and the age restrictions on the social media sites they use. Explain the possible consequences of talking to strangers online, and the importance of keeping personal information private.”

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The force’s schools and young person development co-ordinator Richard Denton spoke at schools including Clifton’s Samuel Whitbread Academy, where he hosted about 100 parents and guardians at a cyber safety evening.

He discussed the best ways to protect children from issues like cyber bullying, sexting and online grooming. Richard said: “With the ever-changing digital world, it’s absolutely vital that parents and guardians know what to discuss with their children about online activity and simple steps that they can take to help keep them safe.

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“The internet is a fantastic invention, but it’s important that children are aware of the potential consequences of what they do online and feel confident in reporting anything that they feel is inappropriate.”

Samuel Whitbread principal Nick Marin added: “Keeping yourself safe online is such an important skill for young people these days and we do a lot within school to ensure that our students get the best possible and most up-to-date advice from experts in this area.

“As part of our holistic approach to safeguarding we also like to ensure that parents are well informed on these matters and yesterday’s event and our partnership with Bedfordshire Police is a good example of our continued efforts to keep children safe.”

Find out more about online safety at nspcc.org.uk/shareaware.

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