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Police chief issues Facebook warning to youngsters
A POLICE chief has warned youngsters to surf the internet with caution - after recent high profile cases of paedophiles using Facebook to groom children.
Chief Inspector Colin Seaton, Deputy Area Commander for Wycombe, said the internet is a great tool but urged children and parents to use it safely.
Ashley Kang, 20, was jailed for a minimum of four years after raping a teenager and having sex with an underage girl in Chesham. He met both through Facebook.
And the Free Press reported how 32-year-old paedophile Christian Bland - who used the social network site to pray on a series of teenagers - had his indefinite jail term overturned on appeal.
Ch Insp Seaton said: "The internet can be a great way of keeping up-to-date with friends and family, and what is going on but it is important to make sure that you do this safely.
"If you make friends online, remember that this could be very different from getting to know them in person.
"If you have been using chat rooms, or social media to get know someone and arrange to meet them, make sure you meet in a busy public place and get a friend to come with you and make sure someone you trust knows where you."
Ch Insp Seaton also pleaded with youngsters to think before posting comments on Facebook and Twitter, as police are cracking down on cyber bullying.
He said: "It is important to consider that if you put information on the web that there is a chance it could stay there indefinitely and potentially affect your future.
"It is also really important to consider when you are making comments online, maybe through social media, that cyber bullying is an offence.
"The police are working closely with schools and young people to ensure that this doesn’t happen, and if it does that it is dealt with appropriately."
The Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board has issued a raft of safety advice for children and parents on using the internet and social network sites.
Visit www.bucks-lscb.org.uk for the full guidelines.
BSCB says young children need to remember to stay SMART:
• Safe - Keep safe by not giving out personal information - such as name, full address, your school, contact details or photos - over the internet.
• Meeting - Meeting someone you have chatted to online is dangerous. Only meet them with your parents’ permission and when they or someone you trust is with you. Remember the person you are meeting is still a stranger, even if you have chatted to them for a long time.
• Accepting - Accepting emails and instant messages or opening photos, files or website links from people you don’t know can lead to problems. They may contain computer virus or inappropriate messages and content.
• Reliable - Be alert to the fact that sometimes, some people online lie about who they are. Always check the information with other websites, books or people you know. It is always best to chat online with people you know and see on a day-to-day basis, like friends and family.
• Tell - Tell you parent, carer or an adult you trust if someone or something is making you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if someone you know is being bullied or threatened over the internet.
Safety advice for parents:
• Parents are urged to sign up to Facebook, Twitter and other sites used by their children, even if they have no interest in using them, so they can become familiar with how it works and the security options available.
• Ensure your child’s Facebook profile is set to the "limited visibility" setting and key details such as your full home address is hidden or never upload.
• Stay up to date with Facebook’s evolving privacy settings and use them.
• Talk about safety and show an interest in what your children do online.
• Set boundaries about what websites your children can use and at what times, and make sure they go online in a family area of the house.
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