Help us tackle online child abuse
“You don’t have to do anything anyone online tells you – whether you know them or not”.
This powerful message from a victim of online child abuse is at the heart of the second phase of our Hidden Harm campaign, which we’re running in partnership with the NSPCC.
Over the next three weeks we will be raising awareness of online child abuse, particularly around online grooming and sexual exploitation.
To mark the launch of this phase of the campaign, we’re sharing the true story of 12-year-old Ellie who built up a friendship via social media with someone claiming to be a 15-year-old boy.
The person she was speaking to was in fact a man in his forties who ended up sexually assaulting her numerous times. Watch Ellie’s story on our website.
Detective Superintendent Nick John, Head of Thames Valley Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said: “Ellie’s story is a powerful example of how something as simple as accepting a friend request from a person you don’t know online can escalate into something with serious consequences.
“The internet is a huge part of most of our lives, especially for the younger generation and, while it brings a great deal of positive opportunities, unfortunately it can be misused by some people.
“This campaign isn’t about scaring people or telling them not to let their children use the internet. It’s about making everyone aware of the potential risks associated with children being online, ensuring they can spot the signs that may indicate a child is being abused and educating everyone on ways we can all help to keep them safe.
“Keeping children safe from harm is everyone’s responsibility and we are very pleased to be partnering with the NSPCC for this element of the campaign.”
Please follow the campaign via @ThamesVP on Twitter and the Thames Valley Police Facebook account using #HiddenHarm.
More information on the campaign, and the signs of online child abuse, can be found on our website – www.thamesvalley.police.uk/hiddenharm.