Gardaí have issued a public warning following an incident during the Christmas holiday period when an attempt was made to extort money from a teenage boy and his family.
During Christmas week Gardaí received a report from a parent that her teenage son, who believed that he was speaking to a female on his Facebook account, sent explicit pictures of himself to this person.
Crime Prevention officer for Clare Sergeant Triona Brooks explained: “Shortly after this a demand was made for a substantial amount of money or else the pictures would be shared. No money was given over and the link was shared with some of his friends but fortunately the link could not be opened. This was very upsetting and traumatic for the parent and teenager.”
“Children are spending a lot more time on-line at the moment. It’s no harm to have a conversation with your child about the importance of their safety when online. Children need to understand that they must not share any personal information online. It is vital that parents have that all important conversation with their children,” Sgt Brooks added.
The Garda advice to parents is if your child spends time online you should understand the risks that could put them in danger online:
– Loss of privacy – sharing information in public that should be kept private.
– Inappropriate content – adult material violence dangerous dares or challenges.
– Cyberbulling – bullying in the form of abusive and threatening texts or emails, messages on social media and chat rooms or the posting of photos
– Online grooming – individuals targeting children through sexual coercion or extortion.
Sgt Brooks added: “The most important thing is to communicate with your children about what they are doing online. Familiarise yourself with the apps and websites they are using. Learning about the internet is the most effective way for you to protect your child from online dangers.
Be involved in your child’s online life, set rules and limits for internet use and keep the lines of communication open with your child and make sure your child can come to you if anything happens online that upsets, worries or scares them.”
For contact details of your local Garda Station click here.
The Garda confidential line is 1800 666 111.