DCSIMG

Kids view porn and ‘sexts’ as mundane

CHILDLINE is set to visit every primary school in Londonderry to encourage age appropriate online safety lessons as it warns hard core pornography and ‘sexting’ are now viewed as ‘mundane’ by most young people they are so common.

Local PSNI officers will also visit schools along with representatives from Microsoft, to deliver crucial presentations on how children can keep themselves safe and secure online.

It’s been revealed that ChildLine carried out 3,745 counselling sessions last year about these issues with most callers aged between 12 and 15 years-old. A further 250 contacts were from children who actually said they were being ‘groomed’ online.

And there was a sharp increase in contacts about exposure to online pornography with 641 contacts representing a 70 per cent increase for boys, with some callers as young as 11 years-old.

The NSPCC has warned that a new generation of social media apps has opened up a Pandora’s box of potential danger.

‘Sexting’ and hard core pornography are now the norm for many teenagers with focus groups describing it as so common it’s ‘mundane’.·

And a recent poll by ChildLine revealed that two thirds of young people who have taken an explicit photo of themselves say that it was shared.

One girl who called ChildLine said: “My boyfriend has posted dirty pictures of me on the internet. I have had suicidal thoughts and have self-harmed a lot. If my parents find out they will be very angry.”

Another said: “I am really upset as I am being bullied by two people from school, they send me horrible instant messages on the internet. They also post nasty stuff about me on a social networking site and call me names in their statuses.”

And a boy said: “My friend in school has porn on his phone and he showed it to me. Since then I have become addicted to it.

Claire Lilley, safer technology lead at the NSPCC, said: “The internet and mobile phones are now part and parcel of young people’s everyday lives. They are the first generation who have never known a world without them.

“The benefits are huge, both socially and educationally, but so too are the dangers. “Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on a scale never before seen. It’s now clear that we are facing an e-safety threat with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.

“We cannot put the genie back in the bottle but we can talk to our children about this issue. Parents, schools, technology companies, and young people themselves can all play their part.

“The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day is online ‘rights and responsibilities’; we need to help young people find the balance between the two.”

Peter Davies, Chief Executive at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said: “Online abuse is abuse and the effects can be devastating for young people, and in some instances life threatening.

“Situations can rapidly feel out of their control and on a daily basis at the Centre we hear from very scared and concerned children who are desperate for help.

“With smart phones and free apps young people can easily communicate with strangers online and share images on the move.”

Foyle Schools Officer Constable Tim Cooke said: “In previous years most internet access for young people was limited to the home or school.

“With the huge expansion in the availability and affordability of mobile internet enable devices such as tablets and smartphones these days this is not the case.

“Children are able to go online practically anywhere and they are becoming web-savvy at a much earlier age. Many children unwittingly find themselves in risky situations when online whether by sharing inappropriate images of themselves or being contacted by a stranger. Others engage in potentially criminal activities and online bullying not realising the impact it can have on their ‘real’ lives.

“It is important therefore that we educate children about the internet. PSNI officers in partnership with Microsoft will be delivering this series of presentations to Northern Ireland primary schools in order to get to get our kids to think safety first online.

“We need to give them the right tools and information to enjoy the many wonderful benefits of the internet like social networking or online gaming whilst avoiding the potential risks.

“We’re also encouraging parents to take an active role. Find out what children are up to online and make sure you talk to them about how they use their social networks or any other accounts.

“Parents can also consider setting up parental controls on devices connected to the internet to restrict the kinds of sites children can access.”

Further advice for both children and parents can be obtained by following this link http://www.psni.police.uk/directory/ and clicking on the icon for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) at the bottom of the homepage.”

 

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