Are you emoji aware? Surrey Police issue warning to parents over hidden drug meanings
Parents in Surrey are being urged to learn the hidden meanings of emojis which some young people use to reference drugs and sexual behaviour.
The force wants to educate parents, carers, teachers and those working with children on their more concerning meanings.
Does that snowflake really mean snow is on the way? Are fruit emojis always only used to reference fruit?
Those are just some of the questions officers have been asking as part of a campaign focused on parents and guardians being 'emoji aware'.
Police say the use of these emojis on their own doesn't necessarily mean a child is involved in drugs but could be seen as part of a bigger picture of a change in their behaviour.
Other changes may include:
Changes in their mood
A change in their performance at school
Them becoming increasingly secretive
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Hyder said: "We really want parents and guardians to feel confident to have a conversation with their children about this, if and when they need to.
"We have shared a lot of information around emojis over the past couple of weeks, both on social media and with our local partners to help raise awareness and start the discussion around this.
"Our focus on this doesn't stop with the end of this initial campaign. We will be continuing to work with local partners to extend the conversation around emojis.
"We're also aware that emojis and their alternative meanings are something that will constantly change, and so our work and research into this will continue."
Visit the following organisations for more advice on support:
Catch 22 - Surrey's Young People Substance Misuse Service
Talk to FRANK has helpful advice about drugs for children and parents
NSPCC has advice about keeping your child safe, including how to have difficult conversations
Childline - information for young people about drugs and sexual relationships
YMCA WiSE (What is Sexual Exploitation) supports young people around staying safe in relationships, online and in the community
Surrey Police website about county lines drug dealing