Staying Safe Online at Home #COVID19

Many social media posts and the news this week are reporting on how many families are begrudging the fact that they are ‘cooped up’ at home with their children, however, I saw a counter narrative on a social media post from an elderly gentleman who was at Normandy during the D-Day invasion, he was telling parents that they are not dodging bullets and he and his mates would have loved to have been told to say safe at home. His message was

‘you are not stuck at home; you are safe at home’

and in the current climate he is right. However, parents face a different threat at home from an enemy that enters their homes legitimately through a service that parents pay for…the internet! Online exploitation is of significant concern, as this current pandemic will create the ‘perfect storm’ for those who have an interest or propensity to groom and exploit young people.

Today, two senior police officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), have highlighted, in a press release, the dangers that children are currently facing from on line predators during this period of national emergency, Based on the NCA’s developing understanding – from a variety of sources – it believes there are a minimum 300,000 individuals in the UK posing a sexual threat to children, either through physical ‘contact’ abuse or online

This is a staggering statistic and worryingly the word minimum is also used!

The NPCC lead for child protection Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

“It is sickening to think that some criminals are looking to exploit the Coronavirus crisis to cause harm online, sadly this is true as sexual predators and criminals will always seek to exploit children and adults when they are at their most vulnerable”.

This is where we need parents to step up to the mark, we have seen a huge rise in the numbers of parents and children using technology to keep in contact with each other as we maintain social isolation and distancing, for many parents this is a new way of working that they have had to embrace whereas our children have grown up in a digital age.

Both officers are promoting the ThinkUKnow website which has activities which have been specifically designed to be fun, yet educational using the Thinkuknow content for the target age group.

Activities will be available for families of children across all age groups (4-5,5 -7, 8-10, 11-14 and 14+) and delivered to families through the new delivery methods being used by schools, as well as sectors including social care, law enforcement, health and charity.

So, whilst many parents are home schooling their children during this lockdown period we are asking them to use this time to visit the ThinkUKnow website with their children, participate in the age appropriate activities and help them keep safe online. Use this time wisely as both Chief Constable Simon Bailey and NCA’s Rob Jones have highlighted the risk and threat to our children, we need to make sure we follow their advice and log onto ThinkUKnow and keep our children safe in their own home.

If you need further advice or support, then please do not hesitate to contact the NWG or our safeguarding partners the Marie Collins Foundation https://www.mariecollinsfoundation.org.uk/

#OnlineSafetyAtHome

https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

Full press release available at https://www.nwgnetwork.org/law-enforcement-in-coronavirus-online-safety-push-as-national-crime-agency-reveals-300000-in-uk-pose-sexual-threat-to-children-2020/

Kevin Murphy

NWG Exploitation Response Unit