Parents must learn the signs of online grooming to ensure their children stay safe, according to Cheshire police.

Today (Tuesday, February 7) forces across the country are supporting Safer Internet Day - a national campaign to raise awareness of dangers online.

Police are encouraging parents to talk to their children, keep track of what they are accessing online and who they may be talking to.

Superintendent Kevin Bennett of Cheshire Constabulary explained that online safety is very important.

“The internet is a really valuable tool and can help many people in many ways but there is a darker side and it can potentially be a dangerous place.”

Police issued the following advice:

  • Try to put the computer in an easy to see place in the home so that you can monitor what sites your child is visiting.
  • Check out the websites your child is using, just like you’d check out a school or a youth group they might visit. Have a look and make a judgment whether you think it is a safe environment for them to be involved in.
  • Set up reasonable guidelines and limits for internet usage. Understand that it may be a big part of their life but that it needs to be regulated.
  • Explain to your children why it is important for them never to give out personal details or post pictures of themselves publicly.
  • Install internet filtering software showing a Child Safety Online Kitemark, on your computer. Filtering products with a Kitemark have been independently tested to provide a simple and effective means of support to parents, helping to ensure that a child’s online experience is a safe one. The Kitemark scheme is sponsored by the Home Office and Ofcom.

Supt Bennett added: “Being part of today’s national campaign provides an opportunity for officers and staff to raise awareness of key issues when children use the internet.

“As a force we regularly go into schools to speak directly to children about the dangers and the darker side of using the internet.

“It is therefore imperative parents are also aware of these dangers and the sites their children are accessing as well as who they are communicating with.”

David Keane, Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said that national campaigns such as Safer Internet Day are a great chance to put a real spotlight on the potential dangers online.

“Working with young people throughout our communities to raise their awareness of how to be safe online, alongside providing advice and guidance to parents and carers, is essential.

“Working together, we can help to protect young people in our communities and prevent them from putting themselves at risk when they use the internet.”

Anyone with any concerns about online grooming can call Cheshire Police on 101.