DYFED-Powys Police is urging parents to talk to children and teenagers about staying safe online, before they go back to school.
Before the summer holidays end, police are urging adults to have conversations about the dangers of ‘oversharing’ – sharing too much information about, or photographs of, themselves – and what they can do if someone asks for or sends explicit photographs.
Detective Superintendent Huw Davies explained: “Teenagers share private photos without understanding that they might be used against them, or shared with others.
“Sadly, we have seen cases where a young person has been hurt because they didn’t know where to turn for help.
“We are here to help and we will treat all victims with humility, sensitivity and confidentiality.”
Lessons about online safety are delivered by Schools Community Police Officers across the Dyfed-Powys area, as part of the national SchoolBeat programme. The force’s aim is to make sure young people have plenty of trusted adults to discuss their concerns with.
DS Davies continued: “Criminals target and befriend their victims, and once they have private or explicit images or video, they attempt to blackmail the victims into sending money or more photos. This is known as ‘sextortion’.
“These criminals rely on people feeling isolated. We are asking parents, carers, guardians and all trusted adults to have a conversation with teenagers so they can turn to you if they are worried about anything they see or do online.
“We don’t want anyone to feel they are the only person this has happened to – that is far from the truth and we are here to help.
“It might be difficult, but please try to find a way to talk to them about the dangers of social media.
“Please urge them to stop and think if they receive a friend request from someone they don’t know – it might not be the person they say they are.”
The advice for parents is:
- Explore sites and apps together and talk about any concerns.
- Ask them if they know how to stay safe online.
- Talk about personal information and what to share online.
The advice for teenagers, if they become a victim of sextortion or are sent explicit photographs, is:
- Don’t panic.
- Take screenshots of conversations.
- Tell a trusted adult.
- Report it to the social media platform.
- Report it to police so they can investigate and stop other people becoming victims.
For more guidance for parents about helping children and teenagers stay safe online, visit:https://www.getsafeonline.org/safeguarding-children/13-or-over/
Or visit the NSPCC website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-sexual-abuse/
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