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Kent Police want all parents in Kent to get online and see who their children are talking to on the internet.
Kent Police have told Heart in the last 12 months, 61 people were arrested for offences of child exploitation online.
Detective Sergeant Dave Shipley said:
"The internet is a wonderful resource, both educationally and socially. However you would not let a stranger come and play with your children in your home and that is how you should view the internet. It's a portal into your children's lives for thousands of strangers.”
He said parents and carers need to be aware of how to monitor their children’s online activity and what software is available to restrict access to websites and impose time locks.
“It is not acceptable for parents today to say, 'these youngsters and the internet, I don't really understand it.' Parents need to understand the internet and how their children use it, as well as how sex offenders use it. Paedophiles work sometimes for very long periods of time to ingratiate themselves into your children’s lives and manipulate them.
“Parents need to be aware of what is going on with the internet and what their children are doing on the internet.”
Detective Sergeant Shipley has these tips for parents:
“If your child has nothing to hide, they will have no objections,” Det Sgt Shipley said. “If you are concerned about any content or activity on your child’s internet and social networking sites then you should contact police.”
He added these tips to pass on to your kids:
Detective Sergeant Shipley said:
"There are a few simple, easy steps parents can take to help. Younger children should only use the internet in communal rooms, not in private, so parents can see what their children are chatting about and who to. Older children, who have the internet in their room, should be told to keep the door open. Parents who have children using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Bebo and Myspace, should become ‘a friend’ of their child so they can see what their child is posting online.
“The decision to allow a child to have a web cam needs to be considered. Web cams are a good route for grooming children by sex offenders. Children can be encouraged to do things they would never normally do. Sadly, once images are given via email or web cam, they remain on the internet forever and cannot be retrieved."