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Training for teens to stay safe online

Kerry Nichol, Assistant Principal, Tuxford Academy; DI Jamie Hill, Nottinghamshire Police; DC John Whitworth, Nottinghamshire Police; DC Stuart Barson, Nottinghamshire Police; Chris Turner, Deputy Headteacher, Carlton Le Willows Academy
Kerry Nichol, Assistant Principal, Tuxford Academy; DI Jamie Hill, Nottinghamshire Police; DC John Whitworth, Nottinghamshire Police; DC Stuart Barson, Nottinghamshire Police; Chris Turner, Deputy Headteacher, Carlton Le Willows Academy

Nottinghamshire Police has launched a new training initiative to educate young people about online grooming, sexting and consensual sex.

The training will begin on Monday, March 19, following tomorrow’s National CSE Awareness Day (Sunday, March 18) and aims to raise awareness of this important area.

Working in partnership with a number of schools, officers from the Public Protection team are delivering training sessions to Year 9 students across the city and county.

DC Stuart Barson and DC John Whitworth first came up with the idea after working on several incidents of sexual offences which involved young people. Additional research found that teenagers in the Year 9 age bracket were most at risk of experiencing a sexual offence, making it more important than ever that young people are educated and ensure they are staying safe online.

DI Jamie Hill, who is an investigator in the Public Protection team, said: “For many of us, technology just wasn’t part of our lives growing up.

“We were taught not to talk to strangers in the street or accept lifts from people we didn’t know. Those lessons are still invaluable, but our children face a different kind of threat today.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen significant increases in reports of grooming or exposure offences against under-18s and, in 2016/17, the majority of victims were aged between 13 and 15.

“We don’t want to frighten young people, or imply that they are to blame in any way. However, we have to face the reality of the world we live in and we need to equip our children with the right tools and knowledge to keep themselves safe, both online and offline.”

The training will be delivered in small groups by DC Barson, who will focus on consent and the law, and DC Whitworth, who will focus on online grooming and safety.

The schools volunteered to be part of a pilot scheme including 260 students at Tuxford Academy, Tuxford, and the overall aim is to roll this training out to all secondary schools in the city and county.

Alongside the training for teenagers, Nottinghamshire Police is also running a number of sessions to educate parents about the types of behaviour to look out for and the steps they can take to protect their children online.

DI Hill added: “We want to make sure young people know that there’s always someone they can talk to, whether that’s the police, the NSPCC, their parents or a teacher.

“This week is all about talking – encouraging parents to discuss uncomfortable subjects with their children and reminding young people that their parents and teachers will understand.”