A top cyber officer has called on parents to help the Force tackle online child sexual exploitation.
The plea comes after Northumbria Police were made aware of a number of indecent images which a handful of children had uploaded onto the social media platform TikTok.
The images, which were user-generated, were flagged and removed by the social media site in the first instance before being referred to Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP), who tasked specialist officers from Northumbria Police with informing the parents of those involved.
Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Chatterton, of Northumbria Police’s Cyber Crime team, said: “While there is absolutely no suggestion these children have been involved in any form of grooming or sexual abuse, the images they have uploaded could have easily fallen in to the wrong hands or been shared among some dangerous individuals.
“We know that children and young people love to use platforms like this to stay connected and to make fun videos, especially at this time, but it’s vitally important that parents work with us to educate themselves and their children about the potential dangers which are present online.
“We are not asking you to stop your children from using the internet or their devices, but what we are urging you to do is to make sure you research apps and platforms before allowing your child to use them.
“Make sure you understand the security settings which are available and make sure you use them; it may be more suitable for your child to have a closed account rather than an open profile, meaning anyone could access their account without being approved.
“Also, consider checking the videos that your children are uploading to ensure that you consider them appropriate.
“We would always encourage parents to have honest and open conversations with their children about online stranger danger and about the importance of staying safe.
“Just like you wouldn’t leave your child unsupervised in a park miles from home surrounded by strangers, you shouldn’t let your children use apps unsupervised and accept friend requests from people they don’t know in the real world.
“Fortunately platforms like TikTok do report indecent images to the relevant authorities, but not every company takes this responsible approach. The good news is there are so many resources available to help you learn more like ‘thinkuknow’ and Get Safe Online.”
To report an incident to Northumbria Police visit our website and use the Tell us Something Page.