Children’s charity ChildLine will be visiting every primary school in Bradford to warn of the dangers of the internet, including children being groomed online, as the NSPCC today warned of an e-safety ‘timebomb’.
Today is Safer Internet Day, and the NSPCC revealed that its latest research, including calls to ChildLine and focus groups with young children, has shown that abuse via the internet and mobile phones is “beyond doubt one of the major child protection issues facing young people today”.
They found that so called ‘sexting’ and hard-core pornography were now the norm for many teenagers, with focus groups describing it as so common, it was “mundane”, with youngsters being blackmailed into sending indecent images to strangers or peers, and cyber bullying.
They described a new generation of social media applications opening up a Pandora’s box of potential danger.
Claire Lilley, safer technology lead at the NSPCC, said: “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 timebomb with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.
“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.
“We cannot put the genie back in the bottle but we can talk to our children about this issue.
“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.”
ChildLine carried out 3,745 counselling sessions last year about these issues, with most callers aged between 12 and 15.
Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member responsible for children’s cervices, said he welcomed the news that ChildLine would be visiting every school in the district.
“We have bought into a sofware programme which looks at e-safety and social media and go through the children’s and parents responsibilities.”
The ChildLine Schools Service is looking to recruit around 25 volunteers in Bradford to reach 186 schools and more than 56,600 children in three years. Visit nspcc.org.uk/schoolsservice if you are interested in volunteering.
Parents with concerns can contact the NSPCC on 0808 8005000 or ChildLine on 0800 1111 and at childline.org.uk for children and young people.