Police in Highland Perthshire are warning of the dangers threatening children online across the area.
In particular, they’re warning parents about how to spot the tell-tale signs of online grooming.
Chief Inspector, Graham Binnie, said: “Help us to keep children safe and protect them from harm. Learn about the signs to look for that suggest a young person might be experiencing abuse online, how to get help and how to report any concerns you have.”
Childline explain that ‘online grooming is when someone uses the internet to trick, force or pressure a young person into doing something sexual – like sending a naked video or image of themselves.’
Tayside Police said that this involves coercing children to ‘send or post sexually explicit images of themselves, ‘take part in sexual activities via a webcam or smart phone’ or ‘have sexual conversations by text or online.’
The local authority said that this sort of abuse happens over social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other outlets.
However, they are well aware of the signs of this type of exploitation and they’re encouraging parents to learn them too.
These signs break down into a simple list which the Police have prepared:
- Spending a lot more or a lot less time online or on a mobile phone
- Being secretive about who they are talking to and what they are doing online
- Switching screens when someone enters the room
- Appearing distant, angry or upset after internet or mobile phone use
- Increased calls / texts to mobile phone
- Talk about new, older friend(s)
- Suddenly they have things they can’t afford
- Staying out late or episodes of being missing overnight or longer
- Isolation from peers / social networks
- Exclusion or unexplained absences from school or college
But help is out there, and the Police are urging concerned parents to contact them or others for help, advice and action to be taken.
They suggest finding out more information from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/child-sexual-abuse/
And more information can be found on the Police Scotland Website: https://www.scotland.police.uk/what-s-happening/campaigns/2020/child-sexual-abuse/how-to-get-help/