When it comes to the fight against online predators and those who groom children via social media, stopping them from targeting vulnerable children in our area is one of the police’s top priorities.
Nationally there has been a rise in the number of reports of sexual communication with a child, with 5,161 offences reported in the last 18 months.
However, Detective Chief Inspector Emma Heatley said even one offence was one too many.
She said: “We’re aware of the long term impact that these kinds of offences can have on young people and that’s why we treat them so seriously.
“Many victims are targeted via social media, so we work closely with our local schools and other partners to help make sure children and young people are aware of the potential dangers and how to keep themselves safe online.
“One of the key things for us is to help them recognise people who may be trying to take advantage of them and make sure they are not afraid to speak out if they are targeted by someone online – whether they go along with that person’s requests or not.
“Another important part of this work is to help parents and carers understand more about what they can do to help keep their children safe – and what to do if issues do arise.”
Whatever the platform a child is using, the basic safety guidelines are:
Use parental controls
Intrusively monitor what your children are doing online, so you know which sites they’re using, who they’re speaking to, what they’re accessing etc.
Talk to your children about the online world. Let them know it’s okay to speak to you about anything they come across that they find unpleasant or frightening – or if they have done something that they wish they hadn’t (shared a pic etc.).
Make it clear that no one has the right to make them do something that they don’t want to do.
Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know in the offline world. All you know about that person is what they choose to tell you – the reality could be very different.
If you wouldn’t do something in the real world, don’t do it online.
DCI Heatley added: “If you become aware that a child has been sending images to anyone or you have any concerns about people they’re speaking to online, please call us on our non-emergency 101 line.
"We have specialist teams who can investigate and put measures in place to make sure your child is safe and protected in the future – as well as arresting suspects and bringing offenders to justice."
You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 and there’s lots of help and advice available via https://www.humberside.police.uk/online-safety-and-security and via CEOP https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/ and the NSPCC https://www.nspcc.org.uk/