Helping children and young people stay safe online

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Northamptonshire Police joined partners from across the county to host three events aimed at helping children and young people stay safe online.

The first took place at the Deco Theatre in Northampton on Safer Internet Day. The event was attended by 140 year 6 pupils from the county’s secondary schools and was opened by his Honour Judge Mayo, who stressed the importance of being aware of the possibly dire consequences of inappropriate or illegal use of the internet.

Being aware that actions can have serious consequences was a theme which ran through the day’s presentations which included knife crime, hate crime and railway safety. There were also interactive workshops by fire safety officers and theatre productions about online safety performed by drama students from Northampton School for Boys and Rushden Academy.

Detective Inspector Nickie Deeks, who leads the force’s RISE (Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation) team, said: “This was an excellent and informative day aimed at helping give children the skills and knowledge to stay safe when they are out and about with friends or online.

“Essentially, it also gave clear advice about how to seek help if they come across anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or concerned.”

Further events took place last week at Angel Square, Northampton County Council’s headquarters, and William Knibb Centre in Kettering. These were roadshow-style events for professionals who work with children and young people.

Northampton County Council’s E-Safety Officer, Simon Aston said: “This week’s events were organised to coincide with Safer Internet Day on February 5 and were a great opportunity to raise awareness of the huge amount of digital issues affecting children and young people today.

“It is so important we all work together to help them use online channels responsibly and safely, as well as helping them build digital resilience.

“At the events, we had a variety of teams running stands from the council and different agencies including health, police and support Service Six. We’re all working together to help keep children and young people safe online, and it was great to see everyone come together to focus on this important topic.

“A huge range of professionals from across the council, schools and our partner organisations came along and learnt more about the services available to them around online safety and how to access them, as well as other linked areas such as mental health services.

“The events all went really well with lots of people coming along to get practical advice and support to help them feel confident and capable around dealing with online safety issues.”

Councillor Anna King, Cabinet member for community safety and engagement, said: “It was great to bring so many organisations together to deliver a fun and informative event for year six pupils.

“Reaching out to this particular age group, ahead of their transition to secondary school, is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of potential issues the students may face now and in the future, and we will aim to continue working with partners to deliver these events on a consistent and regular basis.”

For more information about online safety, visit www.northants.police.uk/support

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