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NSPCC warns of e-safety 'time bomb' putting children at risk.
The NSPCC is warning of an e-safety “time bomb” putting children at risk.
The society is calling for age appropriate lessons to be held in all schools from primary age.
The charity warned latest research, calls to ChildLine and focus groups with young people show it is beyond doubt one of the major child protection issues facing young people is abuse via the internet and mobile phones.
ChildLine carried out 3,745 counselling sessions last year about these issues, with most callers were aged between 12 and 15.
The helpline’s base in Liverpool handled 202 counselling sessions about internet and mobile phone issues.
A further 250 contacts were from children who actually said they were being “groomed” online.
And there was a sharp increase in contacts about exposure to online pornography with 641 contacts - representing a 70% increase for boys - with some callers as young as 11.
Wirral schools are already providing children with information on cyber safety issues.
Councillor Tony Smith, Wirral’s cabinet member for children’s services and lifelong learning, said: “Keeping children safe online is everybody’s business, and the council has staff who work with schools to embed policies around safe internet and mobile technology use.
“Schools themselves are very aware that children are now used to going online at a much earlier age, so it is important that this work is done in an age-appropriate way to engage children and keep them safe.
“I would urge any parent who needs to know more about keeping their child safe to speak to their schools about what support and advice they offer.”
He suggested concerned parents should access www.thinkuknow.co.uk, which is recommended by the NSPCC.
A recent study by the charity found young people want peer lessons where they can share tips and advice with other young people.
ChildLine is also visiting every primary school in the country to discuss these and other child protection issues in an age appropriate way.
Claire Lilley, safer technology expert at the NSPCC, said: “The internet and mobile phones are now part and parcel of young people’s everyday lives.
“They are the first generation who have never known a world without them. The benefits are huge, both socially and educationally, but so too are the dangers.
“Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on a scale never before seen.
“It’s now clear that we are facing an e-safety timebomb with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.
“We cannot put the genie back in the bottle but we can talk to our children about this issue.”