POLICE have launched a major campaign to prevent children becoming the victims of ‘cyber crime’.
Officers say cases of child exploitation – where sexual predators create false profiles on Facebook and Twitter – are on the increase.
Cases of internet bullying, where vicious rumours and taunts are posted on social media sites, are also on the rise.
The force says the main way to fight the problem is through prevention and education.
Hampshire Constabulary has produced a presentation which it hopes to deliver to every school in the county.
Officers from Waterlooville South Neighbourhood policing team have also arranged an awareness event which is specifically designed to inform parents about internet safety and how they can prevent their child becoming a victim.
The event takes place at Purbrook Park School, in Park Avenue, Purbrook, at 6.30pm on Tuesday, which is National Internet Safety Day.
As well as being open to parents from across the Portsmouth area, the event is open to children aged 11 and over.
PC Maria Nixon, from Waterlooville police station, said the presentation – called PICS, which stands Personal Internet & Cyber Safety – can be adapted for primary and secondary age children, as well as adults.
She said: ‘A lot of the time parents think their children are upstairs and they are safe, when that’s where a lot of this is going on.’
PC Nixon said many parents and their children were oblivious to how far some offenders would go to access personal information.
She said: ‘What we are saying is that people online, sexual predators, they are using social media sites like Facebook to access accounts by posing as people they are not. It’s only when you present this information to people that they consider who they have in their contacts and who they are sharing their private information with. When people look at the information they are putting out there, we say to them “Would you tell that to a stranger at a bus stop?”
She said as well as being aware of suspicious activity, people can make sure privacy settings are used on Facebook.
Paedophiles face the full force of the law, but police are also dealing with cyberbullying through mediation, such as visiting the homes of the perpetrator and victim.
Online threats of violence can lead to prosecution.
PC Nixon said: ‘‘Young people have grown up in a technological, cyber age.
‘The danger is they become detached from what they are doing online.’
‘We want to encourage them to use it sensibly and safely.’
Internet safety presentations at schools
POLICE will be visiting schools across the county to deliver the internet safety talks.
They will take place on Internet Safety Day, Tuesday.
PCSO John Payne, from the Fareham and Gosport district will be at Uplands Primary School, Fareham, from 9am to 11am.
PC Maria Nixon, who covers the Havant District, will be at South Downs College, Crookhorn, from 10am to 3pm.
The presentation was initially developed by PCSOs Jim Leggat and John Terry who took national advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre