Parents and guardians urged to know what their children are doing online (4 Feb 2019)

West Yorkshire Police is teaming up with key partners to encourage parents and guardians to know what their children are doing when online.

The NSPCC, Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner are helping the Force to encourage parents and guardians to have a five minute chat with children as part of the #YourChild campaign

The aim of the campaign is to encourage parents and guardians to find out more about their children's online activity. Just a quick discussion could help stop youngsters from falling victim to cyber criminals looking to prey on the vulnerability of children. It could save a lifetime of hurt.

The campaign is being launched to coincide with the annual Safer Internet Day - a national initiative which aims for a better internet for everyone, especially younger users.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson of West Yorkshire Police, said;

"We support Safer Internet Day every year and it is a great opportunity to launch this important campaign - it would be great if parents and guardians could have a discussion with their children about online activity in support of the campaign as it could help them to remain safe.

"A five minute chat could make a real difference, as we know that online dangers include people suggesting they are someone who they are not, trying to befriend young people and them asking them to share images of themselves or meet up in real life.

"Children should tell their parents if someone does try to talk to or befriend them online that they do not know. It's so important to talk and encourage that approach."

"Every parent or guardian would want their children to enjoy the benefits that online activity can hold, so the campaign is just to encourage those discussions that could help in protecting young people while they use the internet in a positive manner."

"The Force has produced a quick animation to help spread the message and we will regularly be updating our social media accounts as the campaign continues.

"A Minute on a Monday video has also been produced by the Force and NSPCC and as part of the campaign the charity will be delivering some training sessions for staff and officers."

Dr Mark Peel, Independent Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership, said:

"As a parent or carer, if your child is invited to a party or wants to visit a new friend, you would want to know where they are going and who they're with.

"Talking to your child about who they are making friends with online is just the same. Five minutes is all it takes to talk to your child about what's right and what's not, and helps keep them safe online."

Helen Westerman, the NSPCC's campaigns manager for the North said "The internet is an amazing place for young people to learn, create and build friendships. To children, online friends are real friends and online life is real life. There's no difference. So it's vital that we do all we can to help keep them safe and they know how to get help if they need it. A simple five minute chat with your child can help them stay safe and by regularly and openly talking about the internet, can help instill really positive life-long online safety habits."

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said:

"The ever expanding online environment means that our children are increasingly exposed to the potential of exploitation and abuse.

"The forms in which this can manifest itself are not, however, immediately obvious, without the correct knowledge and insight.

"This is why it is incredibly important that parents and carers take a central role in educating both themselves and their children.

"Safer Internet Day offers the perfect platform to do this and to seek more information as part of #YourChild Campaign.

"Only a couple of weeks ago did I launch an innovative animation called 'Mr Shapeshifter', which I have grant funded to help protect young people online.

"It will really help with your conversations with your children and I would encourage everyone to take a look www.mrshapeshifter.com."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019