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Safe Surfing

Using the internet, either at school or home, has become part of everyday life for children and young people in today’s world.

Your children will, if they haven’t already, get access to the internet. While the web can provide endless amounts of fun, entertainment and useful information, it’s also a gateway to explicit material and communication with strangers.

In this film a teenager who was threatened and manipulated by a man online speaks out about her experience.

Cyberbullying

Sadly, bullying isn’t just confined to the school playground. Cyberbullying, using the internet or a mobile phone to send or post cruel text or images, also exists.

Essex Police When our children go out to play we want to know where they are going. We take a very close interest. Using the internet safely requires similar skills. Essex Police
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Just like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying is a way of intentionally hurting the victim. However because it doesn’t take place in person it’s not restricted to a particular time or place and can happen by e-mail or on messenger, forum or social networking sites.

Grooming

The internet remains a great tool to help children explore and make friends but its anonymity makes it almost impossible to know exactly who your child is talking to.

While the majority of new acquaintances will be trustworthy it’s a sad fact that the web provides paedophiles with the opportunity to interact with your child.

Grooming is the term used to describe inappropriate behaviour online that puts a child at risk. It’s when actions are taken to befriend a child and form a trusting relationship, often with the intent to commit a sexual offence against that child. Some abusers will pose as children online and make arrangements to meet them.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is part of UK police and works to make the internet a safer place for children by tracking and bringing offenders to account.

CEOP also works with children to highlight the dangers of the internet through their educational campaign Thinkuknow.

Advice

We understand this information is both shocking and worrying for parents. It’s not our intention to scare but to emphasise the importance of talking to your children and keeping a close eye on their use of the internet.

Essex Police Like learning to cross the road, online safety skills are skills for life. Essex Police
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

We've put together a list of tips to help you and your children remain safe surfers:

  • Monitor the sites your children are visiting by glancing over their shoulder and checking the history folder once they have finished.

  • Set up the family computer in a public area of the house such as the living room rather than a bedroom.

  • Remember anybody can be anybody on the internet. Don’t take everything someone tells you or your child as the truth.

  • Make sure your children understand they should never arrange to meet with someone they meet through the internet.

  • Think about buying special software that restricts access to adult websites and any other web pages you would rather your child did not see. You can purchase this software at most PC stockists.

  • Explain the danger of giving out personal details to your children. Make sure they understand never to give out their address, phone number of school name to anyone they talk to online.

  • Learn the language of chat rooms so you can understand what your child has been talking about online and show as much interest in their chat room friends as their real life friends.

  • Go online with your children as often as you can.

This is by no means a complete list but highlights the main precautions you should take.

For more help

For more advice try visiting these websites:

Think U Know - offers parents, teachers and young people latest information on popular sites, what's good, what's not and what you can do about it.

Get Safe Onine - gives computer users advice to help them use the internet confidently, safely and securely.

Chat Danger – how to keep safe chatting online.

Stop it Now! - aims to prevent child sexual abuse by raising awareness and encouraging early recognition of the problem by abusers themselves and those close to them.

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