Parents Urged to ‘Start the Conversation’ as Part of New Campaign
Monday 30 October 2023
West Yorkshire Police and partners have launched a new campaign to encourage parents, carers and guardians to have simple conversations with their children, which could help to keep them safe when they go online.
The new campaign looks at how parents and carers can have conversations with their children, to understand who they are talking to and interacting with and what they are doing.
The online world can be a great place for young people, when enjoyed safely, but some criminals can use online games and social media to contact and exploit them.
Child exploitation can include both Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). It involves a number of crimes including grooming, sexual abuse, drugs, county lines offences, carrying and the possession of weapons, money muling and serious acquisitive crime.
There are lots of ways in which you can keep your child safe online, from having parental controls and security settings, to creating clear boundaries and having open and honest conversations.
Talking to your child about what they do online, is as important as asking them where they are going when they go out with their friends.
Encouraging your child to have these conversations could help them to talk to you about something they have seen online that could make them feel uncomfortable or if someone is talking to them that they don’t know.
Conversations can be around who they are talking to online, reminding them not to accept friend requests from people they do not know, not sharing their personal information such as home address, phone number or passwords to online accounts with others.
Detective Superintendent Paula Bickerdike of West Yorkshire Police’s Central Safeguarding Governance Unit, said:
“We know that children spend a lot of time online, playing games with their friends and on social media. Not everyone that your child speaks to online will have the best intentions.
“Having honest and open conversations with your child, speaking to them regularly about what they are doing online, could be crucial in giving your child the confidence to tell you if they have seen something that makes them feel uncomfortable or may highlight someone who is wanting to cause harm.
“People online may not be who they say they are, and it can be very easy for people to set up fake accounts, with fake names, photos and identities which could trick your child into thinking they are speaking with someone the same age or with the same interests.”
Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership, Det Ch Supt Lee Berry added:
“Exploitation is often intertwined with serious violence, and it is crucial that we can support our communities across every environment.
“Our latest groundbreaking research on social media harms shows that young people do not always make a distinction between online and offline spaces, and we must be alive to the dangers.
“By educating parents, carers and guardians giving them the tools they need, we can better protect our children.”
Alison Lowe OBE, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said:
“We all need to do absolutely everything possible to protect children.
“As a mother and a grandmother, I certainly have these conversations with my family and I would always recommend everyone does the same.
“Whilst significant work continues to stop offenders and create a safer, fair West Yorkshire, prevention is so important, so please check out this new resource.”
Councillor Fiona Venner, executive member for children's social care and health partnerships, said:
"The internet can be a fantastic place for young people, but it is crucial that we all work together to ensure that they stay safe online. I would encourage parents to use the range of tools provided by this campaign to help them start open discussions with the potential harms of being online.”
To find out more information on how to start the conversation with your child, please visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/conversation.