Parents in Sutton can book their seat for the borough’s first-ever Community Safety Presentations to help children and young people stay safe on the internet.
Two free hour-long sessions have been arranged at the Sutton Life Centre on Tuesday, 20 October at 12noon and 6pm focusing on ‘sexting’ – the sending and passing on of explicit texts, images and video via mobile phone and the internet.
Parents will hear from two guest speakers who are specialists in protecting children from harm.
The first speaker will be Joanna Sharpen, who is the Children and Young People’s Project Co-ordinator at Against Violence & Abuse (AVA), which is working to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Joanna advises the Government on children’s issues and is working locally on a Big Lottery funded project with Limes College in Sutton to set up a group of students as peer educators.
The second speaker is Detective Constable Karen France from the Met Police Sexual Offences, Exploitation & Child Abuse Command. Det Con France is the Child Sexual Exploitation Special Point of Contact for Sutton Borough and attends the Borough’s monthly, multi-agency child sexual exploitation meetings.
In addition, parents will be able to raise any issues or questions in person with Sutton’s police officers, who work with teachers and pupils at Sutton’s secondary schools, as well as the Council’s e-safety officer, who gives talks about online safety at junior and secondary schools in the borough.
Police schools officers believe that children are unwittingly putting themselves at risk of distress and harm by posting explicit images of themselves with little or no control over those images being seen and captured by internet users around the world who actively seek out such material.
Charities working in this field believe many children have come to accept ‘sexting’ as a normal part of growing up and are often reluctant to talk about it with their parents because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away.
Cllr Wendy Mathys, Chair of the Children, Family and Education Committee at Sutton Council, said: “Increasing numbers of children and young people have ready access to mobile phones and tablets that have cameras built in. We want young people to learn about using such technology in a safe and responsible manner.”
Places are available at both presentations on Tuesday, 20 October from 12-1pm and 6-7pm. To book your place, email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, how many places you wish to book (one or two) and state which session you would like to attend (either 12noon or 6pm). Or call 020 8649 0681 or 020 8649 0613 weekdays between 8am – 4pm. Please note there is no answerphone on these lines.