SDLP Derry & Strabane Councillor Brian Tierney has urged parents and schools to ensure children are aware of the dangers of social media sites after to a 12-year-old Derry girl was sent explicit images via a smart phone App.
Councillor Tierney made the appeal after being contacted by the girls parents after their daughter was sent the images of a sexual nature by a man via the smart phone App Oovoo.
His warning comes as a number of separate cases emerge in Derry of other children being targeted over recent months via the same App.
Colr. Tierney said: “I’ve been contacted by the parents of a 12-year-old girl from Galliagh who was targeted by a sexual predator on Oovoo.
“The girl’s parents told me that they intercepted a message from a man in his 30s.
“On further inspection they found that the man had already connected with their daughter and had sent pictures of himself which were of a sexual nature and asked her to do the same.
“I’ve been told of other local families who have had similar shocking experiences in recent times.
“This is every parents nightmare and it is vital that everything that can be done is done to ensure our children are protected online from sexual predators or others with ill intent.
“The disgustingly worrying approach to this child highlights the importance of appropriate action to ensure all of our children are made aware of the risks posed by social media.”
Colr. Tierney said everyone had a role to play in protecting local children from being targeted online, whether that be in schools or in the home.
“The terrible loss of 17-year-old Ronan Hughes in Coalisland shows the grave dangers faced by our young people when exposed to online criminals,” he said, adding:
“We need to ensure that we do all we can to ensure that no other family is faced with such a devastating situation.”