How safe are your children?
The summer holidays once again loom and many parents will be thinking about how they can “entertain” their children over the long 6-week break. Back in my day…a long time ago I used to play with my mates on the local park, often only going home for tea, however, those days are long gone-by, many parks are now empty spaces with children often entertaining themselves on the digital devices that most children, even the very young, seem to have nowadays. Whilst trying not to decry the use of these devices, parents need to take greater care about the use of mobile phones and tablets by their children, the devices themselves are not the problem, it’s the websites that many children are exposed to that is the real issue.
On Friday 5th July 2019 a 29-year-old law graduate from Wales; Owain Thomas was convicted of a staggering 158 separate charges relating to the sexual abuse of children, his victims aged from 7 to 14 years old. Many of them were groomed online playing popular games such as Roblox, Thomas had created several fake accounts in order to snare his young victims. The crimes came to light when some of the boys were so scared of him that they told their parents and the Police were able to act swiftly to apprehend Thomas before he could abuse more children.
Many parents out there have a view as to what a paedophile would look like, mug shots in the press can be misleading as they are often solitary figures looking down cast after their arrest. Owain Thomas was an aspiring Barrister in Pontypridd. In my home city of Derby this academic year, we have had three secondary school teachers arrested for possession of indecent images of children and other sex offences against children, would any of the parents or colleagues at these schools thought that they looked like paedophiles?
Greater vigilance is required by families regarding their children’s digital use, how many parents out there ask their children how many digital friends they have? How would your children know how old their “digital friends” are? Do you model good digital behaviour yourselves? As parents we are our children’s first teachers, and this must now extend to our own use of digital technologies along with our children’s. How many times do we see adults at bus stops, in café’s and bars all glued to their mobile devices and forgetting to come up for air?
So as the summer holidays loom please do be more vigilant in what our children are exposed to over this period, we are not killjoys wanting to stop children using digital media as this is an important part of their lives whether we like it or not, but, we must talk to our children more about what they are using, who they are talking to and how many ‘digital’ friends they have. Lead by example. look at your own digital footprint, do you have digital friends you’ve never met before? Think about Facebook and the amount of information that we share without any thought of who we are actually sharing it with, lead by example and show our children the way.
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