Police and Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland highlight online dangers for children

For some children, they may not have had access to the internet before

Police have revealed reports that online child sexual abuse crimes have jumped by over 80% in the last three years.

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland and the PSNI have given advice to parents and carers on how to keep children and young people safe online.

While new technology offers benefits, it has also been highlighted as a “gateway”, for abuse.

In a statement, police said: “For some children, it will be the first time they’ve owned a device that connects them to the online world.

"Even for older children, a new device means new corners of the digital landscape to explore – and unfortunately, new risks to be aware of.”

Police have offered advice to parents which includes checking privacy, location and parental controls on devices and having open conversations with your child about what they are doing online.

Bernie McNally, independent chair of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland added: “It’s the season when lots of local families are buying and gifting new devices and technology and it can be an exciting time as children discover all of the benefits of their new online spaces.

“While much of the interaction is positive, it also presents risk as often children can stumble across inappropriate and harmful content, and it can also be a gateway for people who wish to cause harm and exploit them.”

Michael Kelly, head of service for Child Protection Support Services across Education Authority, said: “We appreciate that supporting our young people to be able to engage with the online world in a safe, informed and confident manner is a priority for the Safeguarding Board and all partner agencies.”

Parents looking for advice can contact police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively, practical advice can be found on the PSNI website.

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