Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles today (Friday 9 January) issued a message of support for a new national campaign helping parents to keep their children safe online.
The ShareAware initiative is being launched by children’s charity NSPCC and encourages parents and carers to understand the risks of the internet and to increase awareness among their children about online safety.
The educational campaign targets parents and carers of children aged between eight and 12 – this is the age when children begin to become more independent online and have access to a wider range of devices.
Commissioner Charles has prioritised child sex exploitation in his Police and Crime Plan, focusing on a number of emerging issues placing young people at risk including the internet, social media and cyberbullying.
He recently wrote to every headteacher in Derbyshire to warn of the prevalence of ‘sexting’ - the practice of sharing illicit images of an individual or a third party via text or social media. Schools were made aware of the serious consequences for anyone involved in the activity including a possible criminal record as well as long-term reputational damage.
Announcing his support for the NSPCC campaign, Commissioner Charles said: “I wholeheartedly welcome this initiative which seeks to instil more confidence in parents and carers in tackling issues of online safety.
“People frequently raise the issue of internet safety during my visits to schools and colleges in the county and it’s something we are concentrating on to ensure children are protected from modern threats of exploitation, as well as the traditional forms of abuse.
“Parents can often feel intimidated by the internet and powerless to intervene because of a lack of knowledge about the sites and apps their children are using. This scheme will provide them with this knowledge and help parents to make informed choices about what their children should and shouldn’t access and how to discuss it openly with them.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Meadows added: “As societies and technologies develop so do the ways in which criminals abuse children. Derbyshire Constabulary is working hard to tackle internet-enabled child abuse and have dedicated officers specially trained for this purpose.
“The NSPCC online safety campaign helps us keep children safe. If parents and carers better understand what children are doing online we can work together to keep them safe. “
The campaign directs parents to a host of new resources, including NetAware, a simple NSPCC guide to the social networks, websites and apps children use
A downloadable guide and hard copy booklet has also been produced containing top tips for keeping children safe online as well as advice on conversation starters to help parents have conversations with their children.
The NSPCC said encouraging conversations with children at a young age can help to build trust and openness to get the right preventative messages across.
For more information, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware.
Media Contact, Sallie Blair - 01283 821012
Posted on Friday 9th January 2015