Police warning to ensure children are safe online

Motorists are being asked to avoid Lings Way after the collision this morning.
Motorists are being asked to avoid Lings Way after the collision this morning.

Horncastle Police have urged parents to ensure children are aware of the increasing threat of any ‘hidden dangers’ lurking on the internet.

Officers from the town’s Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) are visiting schools to talk about the importance of online security.

Some of the visits coincided with the nationwide Safe Internet Day.

Nationally, figures show children face a growing threat from grooming with some popular sites allowing access to chat rooms and private messaging.

PCSO Nigel Wass, a member of the Horncastle NPT, said there had been a ‘positive response’ from pupils to the school visits.

He stressed most children were aware of the potential dangers.

However, he wants responsible adults to ensure they know exactly which sites children are visiting - and that relevant security settings are in place.

PCSO Wass told the News: “The response we have received from the schools has been really positive.

“Most children are very aware of the dangers.

“I’m sure most parents know which sites their children are visiting and have the right settings in place.

“However, some children have told us their parents don’t always know which sites they are on.

“It is difficult for parents, especially with all the different ways of accessing the internet.

“You’ve also got some children who will try to bypass any settings.

“People spend hundreds of pounds securing their homes but their children can be tucked away in a bedroom on their computers, phones and tablets and they (parents) don’t know who they might be talking to.

“By visiting schools, we can get the message across about staying safe online.

“However, the visits are also about raising awareness, and if the children go home and tell their parents what they have heard it has to be a positive thing.”

Horncastle Community Primary School is one of the schools PCSO Wass visited.

Headteacher Steve Bladon sent out a timely reminder to parents about internet security in his newsletter before the February half-term holiday.

He said: “Technology and websites evolve all the time, as do the associated dangers.

“There has been some media attention in recent weeks, particularly focusing on a popular app called ‘Roblox’.

“Many primary schoolchildren use this game regularly, but children and their parents aren’t always aware of the risks linked to this game, and to others which are similar.

“There is a messaging facility within Roblox and sometimes children don’t realise that they can be contacted by strangers through the messaging facility within the app.

“If your child plays Roblox, or similar games (including some versions of Minecraft), please can I urge you to check the settings within the app on the device your child plays.

“With most popular and reputable games, it is possible for children to play safely and privately, as long as the security settings are set appropriately.”

PCSO Wass stressed more school visits were planned.