As social media continues to grow, children are becoming more tech savvy, and have created their own online language. But should parents be more clued up on what it is their children are saying online?
This comes after police in Northern Ireland shared a ‘guide to sexting’ on their Facebook page, with an aim of helping parents to spot signs of child sexual exploitation by understanding these ‘secret sexting codes’.
A number of acronyms and text ‘codes’ were posted, and many parents admitted they had no idea what they meant.
The list included acronyms such as:
- PAW (parents are watching)
- WTTP (want to trade pictures?)
- 143 (I love you)
- IWSN (I want sex now)
- NIFOC (naked in front of computer)
- 1174 (nude club)
Other ‘secret texting codes’ which have been used online can be found here.
Lincolnshire currently has a number of teams available with information on keeping children safe online in the county.
Andrew Morris, Safeguarding Children Board Manager at Lincolnshire County Council, told Lincolnshire Reporter: “More children than ever are communicating via text, and all of the partners of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) work to educate people that the use of technology is essential, but the safe use of technology need to be a constant conversation parent have with their children.
“The LSCB want to spread the message to everyone that “sexting” is not a new phenomenon, and it’s important to continually work with children and their parents/carers to remind them that once an image is sent, control is instantly lost and it can cause significant distress if it gets into the wrong hands.
“Having an open and supportive conversation about online activities is vital to prevent young people from becoming both the victims and perpetrators of crime.”
Detective Superintendent Rick Hatton, from Lincolnshire Police added: “More children than ever are taking part in sexting and alongside the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children’s Board we work to educate people that it isn’t just harmless teenage behaviour.
“There are significant risks involved for young people and especially those that send images of themselves. We need parents to be vigilant and report any behaviour that is concerning them.
“If you do have concerns please contact us by calling 101. We deal with all reports of exploitation with a common-sense approach that will not criminalise children unnecessarily, but criminal investigations will take place where exploitation is clear.”
For more information on keeping children safe online, visit the website.
‘Parents need educating’
Lorna Gallimore, a mum from Lincoln, told Lincolnshire Reporter: “I think parents need to be aware of new sexting codes and phrases.
“I also think it should be thought in secondary schools so that children know when/if they’re being groomed online.
“I think parents should be made aware and should know what to look for.”
Sarah Hadfield added: “Any information to help parents keep children safe is great.
“I did a session in a children’s IT club a few years back where we went online and I had a trusted friend join us.
“I told them to find out who he was. He found out a lot more about them and lied to them about who he was. He then turned on his web cam.
“It was quite shocking to sit back and see what they so easily disclosed about who they were and where they lived. Kids are so innocent.”