In the past year we’ve seen a growing number of cases of young people being contacted on social media by strangers and in some cases being sent indecent images. Working closely with Mole Valley Police, who have seen Mole Valley become one of the most prevalent districts in Surrey for young people at risk of CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation), we partnered together to organise the ‘Protecting Children Online’ to help raise awareness of the issues.
The event was kindly hosted at Therfield School and invited parents, teachers, youth workers and anyone responsible for young people. We were very pleased to have 117 guests in attendance which included 45 young people. The event split the young people from adults and ran separate sessions, with Lorin LaFave from Breck Foundation telling the adult audience about her personal experience of sadly losing her son through online grooming as a result of being targeted through online gaming. Whilst this was taking place, Charlotte from the WISE project ran an excellent workshop for the young people which looked at how they use the internet and invited them to write down any questions anonymously which could be answered later.
After the break, Kate Edwards from Childnet ran a really helpful session aimed at parents, looking at the different types of social media, the different ways young people use the internet, and who and where you can go to for advice. To access the very helpful information pack Kate referred to, please follow this link: http://www.childnet.com/ufiles/parents-factsheet-11-16.pdf
Meanwhile, Lorin from the Breck Foundation ran a separate session with young people to help them understand the dangers of chatting to strangers whilst online gaming.
The evening closed with a Q&A panel with our speakers including the Police team – with Youth Intervention Officer for Mole Valley PC Jo Dootson emphasising the importance of not letting your childs mobile phone go up to their room with them at night due to the dangers of not being accountable without supervision.
The event was a huge success and we hope was helpful for everyone who attended. Thank you to our speakers for their contributions, and to Surrey Police for funding the event and partnering with us to deliver it.
We hope to work closely with our local schools and Police to continue helping raise awareness about these issues. If you need support, please contact the school or local youth workers, or if you have something to report please get in touch with the Police who will support and assist you from there.
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