POLICE in Redditch are pleading with parents to get up to speed with their children’s use of the internet in a bid to beat cyber bullying, sexting and online grooming.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to bullying, harassment, being groomed and, as they get older, being under pressure to send indecent images of themselves to others,” said PC Rich Waterhouse (pictured).
Speaking at the Grove Street police station he said there were cases of children with 2,000 ‘friends’ or more on facebook, Snap chat, Instagram and other social media and parents had to take action.
“Does your child really have 2,000 friends? No, they don’t know 2,000 people. Sit down with your children and go through all their ‘friends’ and every one they have not met delete them,” said PC Waterhouse, an officer with nearly 30 years experience fighting crime in Redditch.
“I have recently dealt with a situation where children were being groomed on their social media by a person who claimed to be a 15 year old.
“He groomed the children into sending indecent images of themselves.
“Needless to say this person was not who he appeared to be and was in fact an adult male,” said PC Waterhouse.
“These situations happen across the country on a daily basis and it is happening in Redditch, in our homes where we should be safe.”
He added that often parents had little idea what their children were doing on the internet or who they were in contact with.
“I would say to parents if you are not on social media, get on it, learn all about it and find out what your children are doing on it. Also make sure you are fully up to date on the privacy settings because anyone can pretend to be a 15 year old.”
He added that a 2014 study by computer security firm MacAfee found that online bullying had doubled in 12 months.
“Online bullying is not pleasant and it can be devastating. The message is you do not have to suffer in silence. There are people out there who are ready and willing to help you,” said PC Waterhouse.
He recommends the following website for parents to keep their children safe: www.westmercia.police.uk/becybersmart, www.ceop.co.uk, www.thinkyouknow.co.uk .