Are we dreaming of a Digital Christmas? – Blog by Kev Murphy

Are we dreaming of a Digital Christmas?

As the festive season fast approaches, we should all be mindful of the risks to our children that the new mobile phones and tablets that are going to be delivered by Santa or in most cases the Amazon delivery driver! This has been highlighted last week by the conviction of 20-year-old Ryan Steadman who was convicted at Leicester Crown Court on Friday 14th December. He groomed young girls between 13-15-year-old by using the Snapchat mobile phone app and in one case persuaded one of his young victims aged 14 to travel to meet him at his home where he sexually assaulted her.

These new mobile phone technologies are here to stay and will only get better and faster especially with the forthcoming advent of 5G that is being released in March 2-019. Educating our children about safe use of the internet is something that happens in schools, however we as adults cannot solely rely on schools to teach our children how to be safe, years ago we spoke about stranger danger as well as the Green Cross man who taught us how to cross the road safely. Both public service campaigns were aimed specifically at primary school children and their parents! As a society should we now consider educating children about internet safety from a very early age and should this be classed as a public health matter!

From September 2019 all schools will have to deliver a sex and relationship education curriculum in schools, this is welcome news however this does need to be a joint enterprise between schools and parents. We have seen mobile phone technology advance at unbelievable speed which has left many parents unable to keep up with their children. This is the inherent risk to our children and is it now time for a public health campaign aimed at adults to help them help their children, reliance on schools to teach children about internet safety is simply not enough as has been highlighted with the case of Ryan Steadman and many others who have been convicted of abusing children via the internet. There is a plethora of advice and guidance available for adults on line that is free to access but here at the NWG and with our fellow colleagues in the Police and other agencies we hear tragic stories every week which shows the ineffectiveness of the current support for parents, therefore is it time now for a public health campaign about this ongoing problem….we would welcome any views regarding this blog as clearly an issue that one agency cannot solve on its own.

Kev Murphy – kev@nwgnetwork.org

Safeguarding in Sport Lead

CSE Response Unit