Updated: Friday, 22nd May 2020 @ 2:15pm

Manchester's Safer Internet Day to teach children about dangers of web sharing after NSPCC warnings

Manchester's Safer Internet Day to teach children about dangers of web sharing after NSPCC warnings

By Glen Keogh

Children in Manchester are today learning about the consequences of taking and sharing sexual pictures and video content as part of this year’s Safer Internet Day.

Youngsters will take part in a series of mock courtroom trials and will debate the legal and ethical implications of ‘sexting’, after internet and mobile phone abuse has been found to be one of the major child protection issues facing young people.

This comes after the NSPCC warned that sexting and hardcore pornography are now the norm for many teenagers, with some focus groups describing the practise as so common it’s ‘mundane’.

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.”

The educational event today is organised by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, Manchester Safeguarding Children Board and Manchester Healthy Schools.

With more youngsters than ever before owning smartphones, the ease of distributing indecent images and talking to strangers has never been greater and this has created new dangers.

Ms Lilley added: “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 time bomb with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.”

The CEOP’s latest educational film, First to a Million, follows a group of teenagers in a battle to reach a million online views through their increasingly outrageous antics.

They will then ask young people from Manchester Voicebox to look at the legal and ethical repercussions of participating in risky online behaviour.

Manchester’s event coincides with CEOP’s national call to parents, asking them to get more involved in their children’s online behaviour.

In a bid to push things further the NSPCC is using Safer Internet Day to call for lessons on internet safety to take place in all schools.

Last year, Childline Manchester delivered 415 counselling sessions about internet and mobile phone issues with most callers aged between 12 and 15-years-old.

And some young people are even being blackmailed into sending indecent images to strangers or peers.

Ian Rush, Independent Chair of Manchester Safeguarding Children Board who are co-organising events across Manchester today, said: “Online sex abuse doesn't yet have the same kind of profile in terms of public awareness as other forms of child abuse.

“We are taking this issue very seriously in Manchester which will hopefully make everyone – parents, teachers and most importantly children and young people themselves – aware of the very real dangers.

“They need to take every care when using the Internet and providing information about themselves”.

ChildLine will be visiting every primary school in the country to talk about these and other child protection issues in an age-appropriate way.

Children who are affected or who know someone dealing with any of the issues above can call ChildLine’s 24-hour confidential helpline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org

Picture courtesy of alexyangphotography, with thanks. 

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