A school in Gedling is to work with police to educate young people about staying safe online
Nottinghamshire Police has launched a new training initiative which will educate young people about online grooming, sexting and consensual sex. The training will begin next week following tomorrow’s National CSE Awareness Day (Sunday 18 March) and aims to raise awareness of this important area.
Working in partnership with Carlton le Willows, officers from the Public Protection team will delivering training sessions to 250 of their Year 9 students. Officers will then also carry out the training at other schools across the city and county.
DC Stuart Barson and DC John Whitworth first came up with the idea after working on several incidents of sexual offences which involved young people. Additional research found that teenagers in the Year 9 age bracket were most at risk of experiencing a sexual offence, making it more important than ever that we educate young people and ensure they are staying safe online.
“For many of us, technology just wasn’t part of our lives growing up. We were taught not to talk to strangers in the street or accept lifts from people we didn’t know. Those lessons are still invaluable, but our children face a different kind of threat today. Over the last year, we’ve seen significant increases in reports of grooming or exposure offences against under-18s and, in 2016/17, the majority of victims were aged between 13 and 15,” said DI Jamie Hill, who is an investigator in the Public Protection team.
“We don’t want to frighten young people, or imply that they are to blame in any way. However, we have to face the reality of the world we live in and we need to equip our children with the right tools and knowledge to keep themselves safe, both online and offline.”
The training will be delivered in small groups by DC Barson, who will focus on consent and the law, and DC Whitworth, who will focus on online grooming and safety.
The schools volunteered to be part of a pilot scheme, and the overall aim is to roll this training out to all secondary schools in the city and county.
Alongside the training for teenagers, Nottinghamshire Police is also running a number of sessions to educate parents about the types of behaviour to look out for and the steps they can take to protect their children online.
“We want to make sure young people know that there’s always someone they can talk to, whether that’s the police, the NSPCC, their parents or a teacher,” added DI Hill. “This week is all about talking – encouraging parents to discuss uncomfortable subjects with their children and reminding young people that their parents and teachers will understand.”