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Cumbria’s It’s Not OK campaign to promote online safety advice for parents and carers with special event

A special online safety event for Cumbria’s parents and carers is being offered as the county’s “It’s Not OK” campaign launches its second phase of action focusing on online harms.

Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP) in partnership with the NSPCC, are set to launch the second phase of the twelve-month long “It’s Not OK” campaign to tackle child exploitation in the county.

The latest phase focuses on online safety and aims to highlight the risks which children and young people face online. To mark the campaign launch, experts from the CSCP and NSPCC will be holding a joint online workshop for local parents and carers to help them spot potential risks with practical tips and advice designed to help keep children safe online.

The online 30-minute event will take place on Microsoft Teams on Tuesday 1 December at 6pm, limited places so be sure to book your place now on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/its-not-ok-online-safety-workshop-for-parents-carers-tickets-130405673881

The offence of Sexual Communication with a Child came into force in April 2017 after a campaign by the NSPCC, making it illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child. And following a recent freedom of information request to police forces across England, the NSPCC revealed that since the introduction of this child grooming offence to June 2020, police in Cumbria have recorded 118 offences. In lockdown, Facebook owned apps were the platform of choice for would be groomers, used in a third of grooming offences recorded by Cumbria Police, where the method of communication was known.

It is clear that social media and gaming sites have proven to be a lifeline for parents, carers and their children as they have adapted under lockdown but more time online has brought with it heightened risk for young people and increased opportunity for offenders. NSPCC research, earlier in the summer, revealed children who are lonely, like attention and rely on social media are more than twice as likely to be groomed online.

Mubashar Khaliq, Local Campaigns Manager for the NSPCC said: “The internet is an amazing place for children where they can play, create, learn and connect – the possibilities are endless. But there are also risks.

“The coronavirus pandemic has, unfortunately, generated the conditions for a perfect storm in online abuse. And we want to help mitigate that danger. The special online workshop on the 1st December is designed to give parents and carers a virtual opportunity to collate advice, practical tips and support. Along with signposting to other free and useful resources. Talking to your child about their digital lives is really important and this special It’s not OK campaign workshop will help make that discussion much easier.”

The online safety workshop is just part of the county wide It’s Not OK campaign, promoting events and materials aimed at a range of ages and audiences including young people, parents, carers and professionals working with children and young people, with the aim to make people aware of online harms and how they can be reported, to help reduce child exploitation in Cumbria.

Child exploitation is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced, and can become victims of grooming and worse. It can be rife online and affect children of all ages.

Gill Rigg, Independent Chair of Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership said: “Together with our partners we are committed to protecting children from harm, and we are working to inform, educate and prevent child exploitation.

“Being online is an amazing way for children and young people to play, create, learn and connect, whether they’re chatting with friends and family, playing games or doing homework. But it’s also important to know how to help keep them safe.

“With Christmas fast approaching it’s the perfect time for us to speak to people across the county about online safety as we know online devices and games will be at the top of many children’s Christmas lists, and we want people to make sure they’re safe and appropriate.

“Together we can support children and parents to be aware of the dangers and know there is someone to talk to if they’re concerned.”

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