Move to protect kids’ online safety

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Parents have been given advice on how to keep their children safe online.

On Tuesday, Liam Shields, 29, of Stanton Close, Desborough, admitted 42 charges of grooming children over Facebook and MSN Messenger.

And Caroline Moore, e-safety officer for Northamptonshire County Council’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, has offered her advice to parents on how to help children avoid a similar fate.

She said: “When it comes to Facebook you are supposed to be 13 years old but we have huge amounts of underage people accessing accounts and filling in too much personal information.

“I would advise that, if your child is on Facebook, you should be too and should add them as a friend. Something I tell parents is that they should post a comment on their wall every two or three weeks.

“While this might be embarrassing for the child, it shows anyone who is monitoring the account that you are there – that can be a turn-off for someone who is trying to groom a child.

“Parents should also be going through their child’s friends list with them and making sure they delete anybody they don’t know in real life.

“Another important piece of advice is about where parents place technology in the house – computers should be downstairs where mums and dads can keep an eye on what their child is doing.

“What parents need to be aware of is that this is nothing new, the internet just provides a faster way for people to use information and contact young people.

“The internet is not something to be scared of, it just has to be used safely.”

All schools in Northamptonshire must teach children about e-safety as part of their curriculum.

Sue Walters, headteacher at Loddington Primary School, said: “Our children are taught about how to be safe on the internet and the dangers of using social networking. We tell them they should be careful and not become friends with someone they don’t know.”

Craig Charteris, headteacher at Trinity Lower School in Aldwincle, said: “As the world evolves and children become more and more internet-savvy, they need to know how to be safe online – just like they need to know not to talk to strangers in the park.”