Children, young people and their parents are being urged to know the signs of sexual exploitation, particularly now in the school holidays.
And a new online multi-agency campaign has begun across West Yorkshire to make young people aware of the risks behind chat forums and interactive platforms.
It follows a big rise in the number of incidents of sexual grooming of children in the county.
West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable, Geoff Dodd said:“Some young people engage with strangers online, not knowing who they are talking to, their age or their intentions. Sexual predators use online forums to groom their victims and it is imperative that our young people understand these dangers.
“Often offenders use false accounts, fake photos, and names to deceive their victims, encouraging them to meet with the intention of committing a sexual offence.
“We have intentionally launched this campaign during the school holidays, as many will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time on social media, apps and other conversation mediums.
“Some of the county’s shopping centres will be displaying the graphics on electronic screens. Police officers and PCSOs will also be speaking to young people in cities and towns, bringing their attention to these important messages.
“Parents continue to play a key role, and we would encourage them to take an interest in what their children are doing online and who they are speaking to.”
The campaign will be publicised on the police website, Facebook and Twitter which feature an image of a two teenagers in an online conversation. The graphic then reveals that one of them is actually a sexual predator and not the person they are purporting to be.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said: “We must help young people to realise the hidden dangers of online interactive platforms and the potential connections with child sexual exploitation. Protecting our communities from this terrible crime remains one of the top priorities in my refreshed Police and Crime Plan and I fully support this targeted campaign.
“By giving young people the tools to make informed decisions and identify the tell-tale signs, keeping them safe and feeling safe.”
The messages which we have posted across our websites and social media will direct users to an online page which features key information and advice. www.westyorkshire.police.uk/who-r-u-talking-2 or visit www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse .
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