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This week is Child Safety Week run by Child Accident Prevention Trust to raise awareness of the risks of child accidents and how they can be prevented. On day 4 our thoughts turn to other areas where children can be placed at risk.
In addition to accidents, children now grow up in a digital age of online services, social media and online gaming which carries a risk of a child being the target of sexting, abuse and online grooming. There are a large number of online sources to look out for as a parent, including sexting via phones, facebook, Instagram, snapchat and even online games which allow for interaction with others.
Most parents will have security settings for their children but how confident can anyone be that they know exactly who their children are interacting with. Messages can be deleted and snapchat photos can be erased once viewed. What could start as an innocent friend request from someone they believe they or another friend knows, could lead to harmless messaging or conversations which then lead to the child being asked to send naked pictures or engage in sexting. There is then a risk that this could lead to the child being groomed and more serious sexual abuse.
In 2015 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it became illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child. It has been an offence to groom a child since 2003 and since 2004 it has been illegal to incite a child into sexual activity.
Whilst it can often be difficult to approach this subject with a child it is important that they understand what is considered abuse and that any form of sexting and sending naked photographs is wrong. A parent should speak to their child about warning signs and ensure that their child feels safe to tell their parent if they feel threatened online or are asked to engage in any activity that is wrong. If a child is a victim of any abuse the police should then be informed and a Child Protection Officer can be appointed to ensure that the child feels supported.
If you have had a social worker speak to you about any concerns regarding your children and their safety and would like to discuss those issues with a children’s Solicitor in our Care Team, then please get in touch on 08000 147 720, email email@example.com or text LAW to 67777 to book a free information session at any of our offices. You can also contact our 24 hour emergency helpline on 07525 837 829, we're here to help!