Specialist officers visit schools as part of targeted action to tackle online offending
Youngsters are being urged to think carefully about whose hands their selfies might end up in.
Specialist officers at Northumbria Police have been heading back to the classroom in a bid to educate young people about the dangers of sharing explicit images and personal information online.
The targeted push is being carried out by officers from the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) and the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) who are keen to protect children from falling victim to online predators after referrals onto the unit saw a 40 per cent increase.
During the week of action officers visited 13 schools, colleges and youth groups to carry out 42 sessions where students were encouraged to consider the impact and consequences of sending and receiving unkind, inappropriate or offensive messages, texts and posts on social media.
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Ord, Head of Cyber Crime at Northumbria Police, said: “It is vital we work closely with young people to make sure they grow up equipped with the right skills and knowledge to protect themselves from online predators and have the ability to recognise when an offence is taking place.
“Our work this week is to help educate young people about the dangers and consequences of sharing indecent and explicit images of themselves online, as well as offering a variety of safety advice.
“We want young people to understand the online world is just as real as the outside world.
"Once they send a photo or message, they no longer have control over what happens or who sees it.
"Even if you think you are sending material to someone you trust is always has the potential to fall into the wrong hands or be seen by people it wasn’t intended for.
"We’re not here to judge so if you have been affected, or fallen victim online, release report it. You can tell a teacher, a parent, or even come to us using our online reporting tool.”
Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “It is incredibly important that we educate our regions young people about the risks involved with sharing images online, to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.”