Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue believes children need to be better educated about the pitfalls of telecommunications to ensure they are properly protected, not only against predators, but against themselves.
She was speaking after the PSNI’s Child Internet Protection Team reported a surge in self-criminalisation through the postage by children of indecent images of themselves on social media platforms. Two hundred and eighty young people aged 18 or under have already been referred to the team in the 2017/18 financial year. That’s more than double the 125 referrals in 2016/17.
Colr. Logue said the figures underlined the importance of educating children on some of the dangers of the internet.
“Children and young people need to be extremely careful about what information they upload onto social media sites. There has been a rise in the number of indecent images of children on the internet and many of these indecent images are uploaded by children themselves. More education for children on the dangers of the internet is part of the solution,” said Colr. Logue.
A number of initiatives are available for educators seeking to improve children’s understanding of electronic communications.
“‘Hopeful Minds’, which provides training for school children on online security, is an exemplar project in this regard. I would also encourage young people to use the ‘Think before you share’ resource,’” said Colr. Logue.
The increase in child referrals, in part, stemmed from a hike in indecent image upload alerts passed on to the National Crime Agency by various companies reliant on digital communications for their income and on whose property the criminal images were hosted.