The internet plays an increasing part in our lives. Unfortunately, while it can be great for learning and communicating, there are many ways that children and young people can be exploited online. Sadly, online sexual offences against young people are becoming an increasing crime in Northern Ireland, with common tactics including the misuse of social media accounts.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary McDonald from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch said: “I’d urge parents to talk to their children and young people about being safe online. It’s important to make your child aware of online dangers and make sure they know that they can speak to someone if anything or anyone online causes them concern.
“Make sure you know what your child’s online presence is; what apps and websites are they using; and who they are communicating with.
“Individuals should be wary about whom they invite or accept invitations from on social networking sites. Do not accept friendship requests from complete strangers.
“Update the privacy settings on your social networking accounts so only people you know can view your account.
“To those who seek to exploit young people online our message is very clear. You leave a digital footprint when you engage in sexual communication with a child over the internet, seek to groom a child online, or are involved in downloading, viewing, and making indecent images of children. PSNI have dedicated Public Protection Branch Detectives who specialise in Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Internet Protection. They will catch you.
“Public Protection Branch Detectives work to target those who seek to abuse and exploit our children, and bring offenders before the courts. However, protecting and safeguarding our children is everyone’s business.”
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