Surrey Police is campaigning to help young people, parents, and teachers understand the problem of online grooming.
The campaign, mainly using Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, aims to reach young people aged 11 – 16, and provides videos, advice and links to useful websites in order to get people thinking about online grooming, how it can happen, and how to stay safe online.
Three different adverts have been released, depicting a male and a female victim of online grooming in three different scenarios, all beginning with a perpetrator connecting with a victim online.
The three scenarios include:
- Online grooming leads to the victim agreeing to a face-to-face meeting with the perpetrator, who turns out to have bad intentions
- The victim being asked to send an explicit picture, and the perpetrator turns out to be an older man masquerading as a young person
- The victim sends a picture to the perpetrator, who then shares it online with multiple people.
As well as making people aware of online grooming, the campaign tells people that if they are concerned about another person being groomed, they should report it.
Surrey Police will be asking schools to share the messages with parents through their newsletters, and online.
Superintendent Chris Edwards said: “Online grooming can, and does, impact both boys and girls across Surrey, and crimes like this can have a long lasting effect on victims and their families.
“The internet allows us to communicate with people from anywhere in the world any time, and unfortunately some people use this to take advantage of young people.
“We hope that by talking to teenagers online about ways to protect themselves, as well as encourage them to talk to a trusted adult or report to us if they have any concerns about themselves or a friend, that we can help reduce the number of victims of online grooming in Surrey.
“If you’re a parent and are concerned a child is being groomed, don’t hesitate to report it to us. I’d encourage you to talk to your children about staying safe online and make sure they’re aware of what they can do to protect themselves.”
Tips for protecting yourself or your child online:
- Keep your accounts private. Most websites, apps and social networks have ‘privacy settings’. These help you control who can follow you, what you share and who you share it with.
- Choose your friends wisely. It’s always best to only share with friends you know in the real world.
- Remove and report. Make sure you know how to remove content, as well as report content if it’s about you and you’re worried or if it’s offensive.
- Know yourself online. Regularly Google yourself to see what other people can find about you, as well as things others might have posted about you.
- Shut down or delete. If you stop using a website, remember to deactivate your account
Suspicious online behaviour can be reported to Surrey Police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency), or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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