Police issue warning over potential of cyber bullying

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Young people are being warned to stay safe online.

With more young people using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, Northumbria Police say they are at risk from cyber bullying.

Neighbourhood Police are regularly visiting schools to talk to young people about how to stay safe on the internet, with safety tips for parents, children and teachers are available on the force website.

Officers are now offering advice to help people stay safe online and avoid becoming an easy target for cyber criminals.

Detective Inspector Sharon Chatterton, of the force’s Cyber Crime Unit, said: “We do work closely with schools across the force to ensure children are aware of the risks around sharing images of themselves and others via text and social network sites and would advise youngsters to think carefully about what they share on social networks.

“The internet is an essential tool and social networking sites are a popular way for children to communicate with their friends but we need to make sure they stay safe online and know how to use it responsibly.

“It’s very important that we make sure young people stay safe online and are aware of the risks and what they can do to avoid them.”

“Anyone who may have concerns about images they have shared or received should speak with a trusted adult or the police straight away.”

‘Sexting’ involves somebody sending an explicit image to somebody they trust. These images can often cause great distress if they are leaked on social media.

Police say:

• Producing a explicit image when you are under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.

• Advise them to never send any explicit pictures, even if it is to somebody they trust.

• Make sure they are aware that once a picture has been sent it could end up anywhere. They should ask themselves if they would be happy for those images to remain in the public domain forever.

• Officers also warn it is a criminal offence to share indecent images with others online. This means just by sharing a website link to these indecent images you could be committing an offence.

• If an image of themselves does find its way online then make them aware that they should speak to a trusted adult and not keep it to themselves.

For more information about how you can stay safe online visit www.northumbria.police.uk/advice_and_information/e-safety/cyberbullying/