West Norfolk Schools on alert after Facebook ‘grooming’
Police in the Lynn area are investigating what seems to be an attempt to ‘groom’ local schoolchildren via Facebook.
Eastgate Primary School in Littleport Terrace, Lynn, has alerted other schools in the town and surrounding area to the scam, which involves a person using the name Fiona Fisher on the social network site.
Yesterday, a police spokesman confirmed: “We have been made aware of this incident and are investigating.”
She said: “There are potential risks in communicating with people that you don’t know, and unfortunately some children have been hurt after having gone to meet the ‘friends’ they have made online.
“Adults with a sexual interest in children have used chatrooms and other interactive areas online to make contact with and befriend children, and then ‘groomed’ them, ie persuaded and manipulated them to meet up where they have been abused.
“There have also been cases of children being bullied or threatened online in chat environments.”
One of the schools contacted by Eastgate was North Wootton Primary, where headteacher Jonathan Williams sent parents an email on Friday warning them about the scam and possible dangers.
In it, he said Fiona Fisher was saying that she graduated from Eastgate school in 2006, but added: “Eastgate have no record of this person ever attending their school and this same person has ‘inboxed’ (sent a private message to) some of their pupils and asked them to meet up.
“The police have been informed and are dealing with this, but they have told Eastgate that the same photo of Fiona Fisher is being used in different names.
“Whilst we are all aware that the legal minimum age to register for Facebook is 13 and therefore should not affect any of our pupils, we wanted to make parents aware of this incident so that you can discuss with your child how they can stay safe online and, should they choose to use social networking sites, to do so with the utmost care in light of the incident.”
On Facebook yesterday, one concerned parent said his daughter had a request from someone named Fisher but conceded Facebook could not monitor everything, “especially friend requests from private accounts”, unless it was reported by many people.
He added: “If a parent is going to allow a child to use sites then parents should regularly check what they are doing, as I do daily with mine, as we know what sick individuals are out there.”
Police advice is that prevention is best and they urge parents to ensure their children are safe while on the Internet by following this advice:
- Keep the computer in a family room, rather than a bedroom, where everyone can use it and you are more likely to keep an eye on how both the computer and any webcams or other equipment are being used;
- Learn about the Internet so that you know how it works, and spend time with your children finding some interesting sites that they’ll enjoy using;
nGet to know your children’s online friends in the same way as you get to know their school friends;
- Encourage them to keep up outside activities and not spend too much time on the Internet.
- Talk to your Internet service provider about filtering software to help block unsuitable sites;
- Teach your children not to open emails or attachments from people they don’t know – they could contain viruses or pornography;
The police spokesman said: “It is important that your children know how to stay in control online. These SMART rules will enable children to be safe and be smart online:
Safe – Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information such as your name, email, home address or school name, and phone number to people online.
Meeting – Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. If you feel that you ‘have to’ meet, then for your own safety you must tell your parent or carer.
Accepting – Accepting emails, private messages or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don’t really know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses which can wreck your computer, or nasty messages and images.
Reliable – Remember that people online may not be who they say they are, and so online ‘friends’ are really strangers.
Tell – Tell your parent or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
Simple advice is available for seven to 12-year-olds at www.norfolkwisekids.co.uk and for older children at www.norfolkbeatwise.co.uk”
Parents can access information via Norfolk police’s website – www.norfolk.police.uk – or the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre on www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for King's Lynn
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North