Parents and guardians are being warned by the Northern Ireland Police Department and the Northern Ireland Conservation Commission on the importance of educating children about online safety before gifting them new devices and technology gadgets for Christmas. .
Police have revealed that reports of online child sexual abuse crimes have surged by more than 80% in the past three years. Many of them are approached by sexual predators online or on gaming platforms.
These crimes included sexual assault and sexual communication with children, and elements of the crime were committed online.
The Police Service, working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Protection Commission and Education Authority, today, Monday 12th This Christmas, we issued awareness messages to parents and guardians across Northern Ireland about online grooming and how to keep children and young people safe online.
Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Brennan said, “Many children and young people will receive new gadgets and computer games for Christmas, and we are asking parents what their children are doing online. or most importantly, do you know who they are talking to?
“For some children, this is their first time owning a device that connects them to the online world. Be aware of new risks.
“Together with our partners at the Northern Ireland Safeguards Commission, we have put together some important tips for keeping your children safe online.
“These tips include: Reviewing privacy, location and parental controls on devices used by children; reviewing direct messaging and chat features in apps; using parental controls; Have open conversations with your child about what they are doing online.”
Bernie McNally, Independent Chair of the Northern Ireland Conservation Commission, said: While much of the interaction is positive, there is also the risk that children will come across inappropriate and harmful content, and it is also a gateway for those who seek to do harm and exploit it.
“Children often meet people who are not who they say they are through social and gaming sites. It is important to encourage them to talk to you if they have ever felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
“Keeping children safe online is a collective effort, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that children and young people understand the risks and where they can go for support if they need it.”
said Michael Kelly, director of child protection support services across education authorities. the world around us. For many young people, this Christmas could be their first opportunity to explore the online world independently, and this comes with its own set of challenges.
“We very much welcome this initiative by the Northern Ireland Police Service and the Safeguarding Commission and are pleased to facilitate the sharing of this message. It is for the Safeguarding Commission and all partner agencies that young people are safe and informed. We appreciate that helping you participate in the online world with confidence that is based on our priority.”
Officers are working closely with local schools, the Ministry of Education, and education authorities to highlight potential dangers online and ensure that children are well-groomed online or at risk. Parents who are concerned that they may be Always dial 999.
Practical tips and advice are published on the Police Service website.online