Are you aware of the dangers social media can pose to young users?

12 February 2013

Detectives are urging parents not to be afraid of snooping on their teenage children as they use social media for fear they could be easy prey for online groomers.

The warning comes as a 36-year-old Army Reservist was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment after being found guilty of abducting and raping a 12-year-old girl who he met through instant messaging.

Adrian Rose of Rochester Drive in Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex, had denied seven charges of rape, six charges of abduction and one charge of grooming but was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court last month.

Rose was sentenced today by Judge Stephen Holt who had previously praised police officers for "a brilliant piece of good old fashioned policing".

He was sentenced to 17 years for each rape offence, three and a half years for each abduction offence, and five years for the grooming offence. These sentences will run concurrently.

"Young people often have no idea who they are really chatting to and parents have to ask themselves whether they would really feel comfortable letting their 13-year-old talk freely with a 30-year-old stranger."

Det Supt Julie Wvendth

Rose was also placed indefinitely on the Sex Offenders Register and has been banned from using social media for life.

Police approached Rose on Sunday 19 February 2012 when he was parked in his car with the on Broadland Business Park in Norwich. The officers wanted to make checks on the vehicle due to the appearance of its number plates and windows, but when they found the girl inside they spoke to her and Rose.

The officers took the girl home after becoming concerned about her age and the fact she was alone with him. During the journey the victim said that she had been in a sexual relationship with Rose after having met him through Blackberry Messenger.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Steve Graves, said: “The victim in this case is a very shattered young girl, but she is determined to get on with her life. Rose is a predator who has denied his actions throughout, which meant the girl had to relive the traumatic events which have happened to her in order to bring him to justice. She and her family have received support from police and will continue to do so, and I commend her bravery in giving evidence."

Detective Superintendent Julie Wvendth has today warned parents of the dangers social media can pose to young users. "Many parents can feel apprehensive about being too nosey about their children's lives particularly when they hit the teenage years. But this is the time when they need to adopt prying eyes and become much more mindful of the dangers the online world can bring.

"Young people often have no idea who they are really chatting to and parents have to ask themselves whether they would really feel comfortable letting their 13-year-old talk freely with a 30-year-old stranger."

Det Supt Wvendth also stressed the same warnings also apply to teenage boys who could unknowingly be communicating with young girls via networking sites or chatrooms.

"Many teenage boys may see online chat as harmless however should conversations become explicit they may well be in danger of committing an offence for which they could be arrested."

Parents can visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre's (CEOP) 'Thinkuknow' website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information.

Grooming is a process of manipulating a child to gain control over them; as a parent or carer you should be approachable so that if your child is concerned about something, they know they can talk to you.

If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards your child, you can report this directly to CEOP.

Parents should set rules around internet use and and help their child to understand that strangers online are still strangers and they need to keep their personal information private. Help them understand that it is never a good idea to meet someone in the real world who they first met online but, if they do, then they should take a parent or trusted adult with them.

Look what you did

Have you watched the emotive short film 'Look what you did'?