I’m appearing on Sky News today at 3.30 discussing a new report called ‘Digital Dangers’ jointly published by Barnardo’s and the Marie Collins Foundation.
It says all children are vulnerable to being groomed and sexually exploited on the internet via mobile technology.
For the report, 34 project workers from 11 Barnardo’s specialist child sexual exploitation services throughout the UK, were interviewed about the young people they support . Barnardo’s workers reported that those who were at risk, or were victims of sexual exploitation online often:
•Consider it normal to use sexualised language and send naked photos of themselves to strangers online
•Keep online grooming or abuse a secret
•Do not fit the stereotypical vulnerable or ‘at risk’ child profile and could be in any family
•Can be younger than those children sexually exploited and groomed offline.
The report also found that professionals and parents lack technology expertise to check online behaviour.
My thoughts are:
????Parents are the first generation of parents having children 24/7 connected but they mustn’t put their head in the sand – they must be involved in ‘Talking & Teaching’ their children about the possible dangers
????Parents of younger children should control where their children use their technology – in the kitchen, utility room, sitting room so they can keep an eye I what their kids are doing, who they are speaking to and who they interacting with.
????Parents need to talk to their kids about what they are doing online – you wouldn’t let your child go to the park for 3 hours on their own and not chat about who they were with, what they chatted about and what they did – so why not ask your children what they’ve been doing in their bedroom for 3 hours ?