Safe and Sound Supports Safer Internet Awareness

4 February 2019

Local charity Safe and Sound has joined hundreds of organisations across the world to highlight the potential dangers of the internet – particularly for children and young people.

Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 5 February 2019) aims to encourage everyone to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

Safe and Sound is a highly-regarded local charity which specialises in tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation through individual support for children and young people and community awareness programmes across Derbyshire.

It is supporting Safer Internet Day due to the growing prevalence of criminals using the internet to groom children and young people for their own purposes.

The charity’s specialist case workers are currently working with around 65 children and young people aged between ten and 18 across the city and county who have been victims or who are at risk of online grooming and exploitation.

More than half of them have experienced or are at risk of online grooming in various guises.

This has ranged from vulnerable young people sharing personal information with strangers online to more sinister activity such as being coerced into sharing inappropriate images of themselves and agreeing to meet up face to face.

Safe and Sound chair Catherine Arkley explained: “Online grooming is a particularly manipulative form of child sexual exploitation and abuse and is a growing threat with the increasing use of social media.

“People are not always who they say they are online.  At first they may seem friendly and will always find something in common with the young person which is the start of the grooming process.

“This initial contact can turn far more sinister – asking the young person to send inappropriate photos and webcam images or persuading them to meet up.

“Our team works on a one-to-one basis with young people to help them recognise the dangers that the internet can pose to them and to better recognise the warning signs of grooming.

“Our awareness sessions in local communities also highlight the importance of parents and carers ensuring that young people have privacy settings on all social media networks, mobile apps and games and where they can get support if they are worried.

Mrs Arkley particularly reinforced that children and young people were not to blame for online grooming: “Although it is important for young people to be vigilant about privacy settings and who they talk to online – it is the other person who is wrong for making these inappropriate approaches.

“Young people need to know that they will not be punished for what they have said or done online but will be listened to and it will be taken seriously.”

She advised that inappropriate online behaviour should be reported to the police or CEOP the national crime agency at who can investigate them.

Notes to the editor:

For more information please contact Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]