Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 15°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Parents are failing in fight against online child abuse

09:30 05 February 2014

Parents in Suffolk are falling behind in the challenge to protect children from online abuse, it has been warned.

shares

The intervention comes after a new report found one in four young people aged between 12 and 15 were victims of online abuse in the county in 2013 – an increase over the past two years.

But there was a fall in the number of youngsters who said their parents had taught them how to keep safe on the Internet.

Some 40% of children aged 10-11 said their parents had failed to teach them about online safety. For 14- to 15-year-olds, only one in three described their education of the topic as “very good”.

Overall, out of 1,685 youngsters aged between 10 and 18 surveyed, the level of adequate parental guidance over Internet safety dropped from 63% in 2011 to 58% last year.

The findings were revealed in Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) third-annual ‘Suffolk Cybersurvey’ study, unveiled yesterday at a major online safety conference at IP-City Centre in Bath Street, Ipswich.

Tink Palmer, founder and chief executive of the Marie Collins Foundation, said the results of the survey were “concerning but not surprising”.

She insisted parents must become better at noticing when their children start showing signs of abnormal behaviour – possible evidence of online abuse – and need to develop the confidence to intervene at a time of growing technologies.

“For parents and teachers – for all of us – we need to become much more active and start engaging with these children,” she said.

“I’m getting a bit tired of parents and teachers bashing the Government for not giving them the materials they think they need to protect children from online abuse.

“We must all start asking them questions instead. When their behaviour suddenly changes, whether in the classroom, or at a youth club or at home, we must ask the question why.”

The findings also revealed that 22% of young people were blackmailed or threatened over private photos or webcam images.

It said 70% of those young people who suffered online abuse reported it. However the bullying stopped in only 58% of those occasions, while it worsened in 10%.

Mrs Palmer argued the response to the needs of children who suffer online bullying – which she said sometimes includes older people grooming vulnerable youngsters – needs to be improved.

“Online abuse knocks the child’s self-confidence,” she added.

“They do not know where to go and they suddenly panic. They do not trust anyone and become inward; a feeling which could lead to self-harm.”

In the category of 12- to 13-year-olds, there was an 8% rise of cyber-bullying in the past two years, reaching 25% in 2013. For teenagers aged 14 to 15, it increased by 5% in 12 months also to 25% last year.

Dr Emma Bond, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies at University Campus Suffolk, warned advances in technology meant many parents were failing to supervise the online and social media activities of their children.

Some 73% of young people in Suffolk now own a smartphone. Tablet ownership surged from 43% to 67% in a year.

“It is increasingly important to talk to children and parents about the risks online (because) recent technological advances have transformed how children access the internet and the social media they use,” she said.

“Teachers and parents are often unaware of the apps children are using, the sites they are visiting and who they are communicating with.

“The boundary between offline and online are blurred but the messages about the risks need to be clear.”

Around 100 people who work with vulnerable children heard at yesterday’s conference from industry-leading Internet safety and sexual exploitation experts.

They highlighted issues relating to the sexualisation of children, cyberbullying and cyber-addiction.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s deputy cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said the harm caused by online abuse, exploitation and grooming is a “serious concern”.

“That is why e-safety awareness training is regularly delivered in schools and to staff in organisations that work with vulnerable young people and adults,” he said.

“Professionals from across Suffolk who work with vulnerable children and adults came together in Ipswich (yesterday) to hear from industry-leading e-safety and sexual exploitation experts.

“This is part of our ongoing work to educate vulnerable people and protect them from harm.”

shares

0 comments

Police attend the scene of a major incident near the train station in Bury st Edmunds on Tuesday 4th August.

Police have arrested three people following a shooting that took place in Bury St Edmunds yesterday evening.

Dhilip Ravichandran in hospital following the collision.

A west Suffolk business is leading a campaign to raise thousands of pounds for urgent medical care for a colleague on the other side of the world whose life is in the balance following a hit and run collision.

Residents in Holland-on-Sea form a working part for flood defences

A ditch and culvert was cleared in a mission to save homes after a number of residents in Keswick Avenue were forced to move out in June when heavy rainfall left them wading around in inches of water.

Police attended to the crash

A driver has suffered minor injuries in a crash with a lorry in Wrentham this morning.

Boxted Cricket Club have been asked to move out of the nearby club house. They know have to resort to using a garage. Pictured is Chairman Tim Berry.

A parish council has declined to comment on claims it has evicted a cricket club from its home of more than 30 years.

Crews attended the fire

Firefighters were called to a fire at a workshop in Gosfield, near Halstead.

Police attend the scene of a major incident near the train station in Bury st Edmunds on Tuesday 4th August.

Police have spoken to reassure residents after a man was shot in the stomach in Bury St Edmunds this evening.

Police remain at the scene of the accident

Police have been called to a head-on crash between two cars in Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds this morning.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court

A 60-year-old dangerous driver has admitted clattering into two cars when he got behind the wheel having taken heroin.

Frederico Santa-Barbara of Jacobsen and Neil Cleverly, superintendent of the Rio Olympic Golf Course, with a selection of equipment supplied by Jacobsen for the course ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Two machines built at the Ipswich factory of turf maintenance equipment company Ransomes Jacobsen have been delivered to the Rio Olympic Golf Course in Brazil.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages