Barnardo’s have launched a hard-hitting TV advert highlighting child sexual exploitation. The charity is warning parents to be aware of the tell-tale signs their children may be vulnerable to abuse, arguing that teenagers desire to fit it, alongside the wish to experiment can make them vulnerable to being exploited.
A snapshot survey of 29 Barnado’s specialist services in September last year noted that technology was used in the exploitation of 370 children, with young people telling them that they had been targeted via social networks, instant messaging apps, photo sharing apps such as Snapchat, dating apps, and via online gaming.
I have three children. The toddler is of course too young to go on these sites, but it won’t be long before the ten year old wants to, and my 17 year old, like many teenagers, spends a lot of time on social media. She is at a very difficult age in terms of parental interference, at almost 18 it is neither practical, not reasonable for me to have passwords to her social media accounts like I did when she was younger. She needs her privacy, but I need to know she is safe. Of course we have had the conversations about internet safety, and of course school did too. I think she is pretty savvy, but sadly nobody is infallible, so I have noted the top three signs that Barnado’s recommend parents look out for:
- Changes in behaviour including regular episodes of staying out late or not returning home.
- Unexplained gifts or possessions, such as expensive new smart phones.
- Noticing the extent of your child’s online life and how they use technology.
Barnardo’s have a free downloadable guide for parents available here with more advice and help, and to find out more about Barnardo’s crisis campaign visit there website here. Anything we can do as parents to help prevent this happening to more children has got to be a good thing, and I am grateful there are charities such as Barnardo’s to help both prevent and to provide vital assistance to recovering victims.
Love Miss Cisco XXX