Parents get help from schools to prevent online child sex grooming

Some parents meeting the mayor (far right) at the internet safety session held at St John's Primary School

Some parents meeting the mayor (far right) at the internet safety session held at St John's Primary School - Credit: LBTH

A course to keep children “safe from cyber bullying and sexual exploitation” when they're on their home computer has begun, with sessions for parents held at school. 

Some 200 parents have already taken up the course with 33 Tower Hamlets schools having now booked more sessions before the end of the year and planning from January. 

Mayor John Biggs met some of the parents and headteacher Terry Bennett at one session at St John’s Primary in Bethnal Green. 

“A lot of things on the internet are not suitable for young people,” the mayor warned them. “The internet is an amazing resource for learning with access to so much information at the click of a button — but is also a space where children can fall victim to online grooming, cyberbullying and sexual exploitation.” 

Working styles changed dramatically during lockdown, with schools closed and children doing more and more lessons online from home, it was pointed out. 

Children are now used to having access to the internet, which could have a negative impact on their social skills and in the worst-case scenario, lead them to dangerous situations. 

One mum at the session, Kathy Richards, said: “I was worried about apps and didn’t know my child had to be 13 to use TikTok, for example. 

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“The session was a reminder for actions we parents need to take to protect children, to balance screen time with ‘off-screen’ time.”  

Another parent, Rumena Begum, recalled: “The session helped put controls on the internet so it goes off at a set time. I didn’t know I could do that.” 

Another on the course, Ashley Smith, revealed: “The session has given me confidence to talk to my children about the risks online.” 

The education authority is running the sessions in schools to keep parents alert to what children could be viewing on the internet and for youngsters themselves to know what is safe and not safe. 

The safety course was the brainchild of the council’s family support service at the town hall.

Head of service Jill McGinley said: “Providing support for parents is our priority. We have worked with schools for many years and listened to concerns from parents and carers.” 

The course can also be in different languages including Bengali and Somali. Parents can find out more on the council website’s parent family support page