NSPCC calls for compulsory online safety lessons

NSPCC Cymru has called for compulsory online safety lessons to be included on the curriculum, following concerns over online grooming.

A freedom of information request found that 155 people have been reported to police in Wales for meeting a child under the age of 16 following sexual grooming.

The Dyfed-Powys Police area saw the highest number of recorded crimes with a total of 60, followed by South Wales Police with 35, Gwent Police with 34 and North Wales Police with 26.

In response, the NSPCC believes that all school children should receive age-appropriate online safety lessons, to teach them about the dangers of social media and online grooming.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC in Wales, said: We know that in a large number of cases, attacks are carried out on children by abusers who have first groomed them for this purpose. As these figures show, most of this grooming now increasingly takes place online.

"The internet is a fantastic resource to help children learn about the world around them and enjoy all it has to offer, but they need to be taught about the dangers online and how they could be exploited.

"Education is the key to teaching children how to use the internet safely so they don't find themselves at risk of serious harm.

"Online safety is a 21st century child protection challenge and it is something that we need to tackle head on

"It is important that children who have been groomed and abused have the confidence to come forward and know that they will be listened to and believed."

Responding to NSPCC’s calls for compulsory online safety lessons to become part of the curriculum, Darren Millar, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Education and Children, said: “Online social media platforms can be an open door for tech savvy offenders to make contact with children, who are all too often unaware of the sinister intentions which lie behind an innocuous exchange.

“Children desperately need to be made aware of the tell-tale signs of groomers, and what to do in the event that they are approached online by a stranger. The wiser they are to this kind of behaviour and its dangers the better.

“I wholeheartedly welcome the NSPCC’s calls for compulsory online safety lessons to be integrated into the school curriculum, which I am confident will result in more arrests and fewer incidents of abuse.

“Through working with internet providers, police, charities and communities, we need to ensure that our children are safe from online threats, and that perpetrators are brought to swift justice.”

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