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Half Term Internet Safety Sessions for Parents/Carers

Parent Internet Safety Sessions at :C the Box, Priestgate Darlington. Tuesday 18th  Feb and Thursday 20th Feb 1pm -2pm. During these sessions parents/carers can find out about parental controls and how to keep their children safe online. All welcome. For more details contact

Michael Clark or Colin Gibson (Targeted Media Youth Worker)

at :C the Box on 01325 405699 or mobile 07788 388163

Random Video Chat apps

Darlington Early Help Team have had a number of reports lately about primary aged children using random video chat apps that allow users to video chat with strangers. In all of these cases children have been chatting to adult males who ask for personal information and in some cases they have seen an adult expose themselves. 

Random Video Chat Apps –

Random video chat apps that allow you to talk to strangers anonymously are gaining popularity and a simple search through the Google and Apple stores reveals too many apps to list here. Along with this growth in random chat apps we are seeing a rise In young children using them. Apps such as Omegle, Monkey, Holla, MeowChat and Chatspin all allow you to randomly chat to strangers. Sign up is easy and in general you don’t have to register your details, just add a username and away you go. A lot of these apps have a rating of 18+ on the app stores but we are now starting to see these type of apps being made for children with age ratings of 3 years plus. While some of these allow parental supervision to monitor who your child talks to they still encourage children to video chat to strangers with the view of making new friends. These apps also introduce and normalises the practice of random video chat apps at very early age.

While we can see the attraction of making new friends online for many children and young people especially if your someone who struggles to make friends face to face we find it hard to recommend random video chat apps. We have had numerous reports from parents, schools, children and young people who tell us about a number of incidents of children being exposed to sexually explicit chat and behaviour as well as requests for personal information and being threatened and scared as a result of using these types of apps.

Awareness needs to be raised around the risks and dangers of using these types of apps and for the potential of children being exposed to sexually explicit content such as other users exposing themselves and performing sex acts on themselves or on others on camera. Parental supervision and controls are a must as well as encouraging children and young people to report anything that’s makes them uncomfortable, worried or scared to an adult.

County Lines Update

Criminal exploitation known as ‘county lines‘ is where gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs. Children as young as 12 are being put in danger by criminals who are taking advantage of how vulnerable these young people are.

 In 2018 the government set up the national coordination centre for county lines and that has been up and running around a year and still needs time to establish itself. Since county lines relies on mobile phones, the police have recently been given a new power – Drug Dealing Telecommunication Restriction Orders (DDTRO) to shut down a drug dealing line where possible.

In a recent Government report looking at how forces tackle so-called county lines drug gangs, inspectors recommended the Home Office carry out a review of the criminal abuse of mobile phones which should “explore” the regulations of the communications industry, adding: “The present arrangements that enable criminality by allowing the anonymous acquisition of phones and numbers, should be re-examined.”

Some useful sites if you require further information or support:

Domestic Abuse ‘biggest threat to child protection’

Domestic violence, family conflict and drink and drug abuse are the biggest drivers of the rise in child-protection cases in England, says the Local Government Association (LGA).

The organisation representing English councils has surveyed the councillors in charge of children’s services about the causes of a 53% rise in child-protection cases over the past decade.

More than 80% identified domestic violence and substance misuse as being behind the increased numbers in their local authorities.

An average of 88 children are taken into care each day and the LGA asked the lead councillors for children’s services for their view of the most common causes.

The behaviour of adults around children – in the form of domestic violence, drinking and drug taking – was the most frequent explanation for councils having to intervene to protect 18,000 more children than a decade ago.

This was followed by factors such as poverty, housing problems and debt.

Useful Links if you require further help: 01325 364486 03000 20 25 25 (24 hr) ) 01642 241864

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