Following the conviction of a man who groomed more than 1,000 girls on Facebook, advice has been given to parents who may be worried about the safety of their own children.
Ryan Chambers,19, from Milton Keynes, was jailed for more than three years for sexually abusing girls he met on the social networking site.
Det Sgt Sally Kestin said: “I would advise parents to keep a close eye on their children’s internet use and ensure they are all aware of the risks associated with using social networking websites.
“For example, be aware that “POS” means “parent over shoulder” and could mean their son or daughter are altering their responses whilst you are actively monitoring. It is worth finding out whether your child can explain who all their “friends” are on their site and which ones are strangers.”
Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), said: “This case shows clearly that where children go online, those with a sexual interest in them will follow.
“I would encourage any parents who have concerns about their child’s online behaviour, or any child who is worried about what they are doing in their online community, to report to CEOP or their local police force.”
Parents can look out for the following signs that may indicate their child is being groomed. However, it should be noted that these signs can also be normal teenage behaviour.
· A significant increase in their use of technology; internet/mobiles
· Secretive behaviour, particularly around use of the computer/mobile
· Increase or change in use of sexualised language
· Aggressive behaviour
· Displaying sexual behaviour, perhaps inappropriate for their age and/or understanding.
Parents can find useful information at www.thinkuknow.co.uk, and children should follow the S.M.A.R.T. rules:
S – Safe: Do not give out personal information when chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.
M – Meeting: Meeting with someone who has only been in touch online can be dangerous.
A – Accepting: Accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages!
R – Reliable: Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real world friends and family.
T – Tell: Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.