A Safer Schools Officer in Westminster will be visiting Paddington Academy today, Wednesday, 10 July to discuss the importance of internet safety in the run up to the summer holidays.

PC Ceyhun Uzun and Assistant Principal Daniel Riley will be delivering an online safety presentation to Year 9 students to provide advice on how to keep safe online ahead of the summer break.

The teenagers will hear about how anyone can unwittingly become victims of abuse on the internet, whether that be through online games, social networking site or apps. They will be provided advice on all forms of online abuse – from cyberbullying and sexting to social media stalking and online grooming.

The Met’s Safer Schools Officers work closely with schools to build positive relationships between the police, young people, school staff and parents, based on trust and mutual respect. They offer advice on how to use the internet and social media safely and report crime appropriately.

PC Ceyhun Uzun said: “The internet can be a great space for young people to connect, socialise and learn. With it being such a major communications tool, we must do everything we can to make sure it is safe and young people are alive to threats online.

“It is our job to build positive relationships with young people to ensure they have the confidence to use the internet safely and report any concerns to police.

“Carrying out these presentations at schools forms a large part of our work however, we are ramping up our advice and guidance ahead of the summer break to ensure students are aware of how to stay safe online.”

Assistant Principle Daneil Riley, said: “While the vast majority of young people are able to appropriately manage their behaviour online, there is a real gap in student understanding of the risks of online social media communication. This can lead to young people placing themselves into dangerous situations and this is something that we work hard to stop from happening. The most effective way that we can do this is to educate young people about what the risks are and provide them with practical advice on what to do if confronted with a challenging situation online. This is the purpose of what we are doing through our online safety assemblies so that students can manage social media appropriately in a safe and positive way.”

No matter your age or sex, it is important to follow some important rules for social media safety, these include:

Checking your privacy settings – in most cases, the default privacy setting will give your posts the most public exposure which can be very dangerous. Keep your social profile strictly private – the best settings are where only friends can see what you post because you never really know who your friends are friends with online, so the ‘friends of friends’ setting can leave you vulnerable.

Be cautious of friend requests – only accept requests from people you know, not strangers.

Never agree to meet a person new online. Always tell an adult if a person sends or requests intimate photos.

Remember – always approach online friends, who you don’t know in the real world, as a potential predator – even if you feel like you know them; you don’t really know who they are.

Finally, avoid posting where you are going on holiday, or posting photos while on holiday – wait until you are home. This will help protect your home from burglars.

Further crime prevention and personal safety advice is available from on the MPS website at www.met.police.uk.

Advice on online grooming can be found on many websites such as the NSPCC.

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