Northern Ireland children asked to post indecent images online
The PSNI has issued a warning for parents to be aware of the online safety of their children after it emerged two attempts to obtain indecent images were reported to police in the north Down area on Tuesday.
In one incident a young child had their mobile number taken from an open Instagram account which was then used to communicate via WhatsApp, asking her for indecent images.
A PSNI Facebook post said: "Thankfully, very sensibly, the child spoke to their parents and their school and the Instagram account privacy settings were adjusted and the WhatsApp caller blocked.
"We have seen many like this where initial contact can be innocent and friendly but quickly moves to a threatening nature." The second was where a Snapchat account, again of a young child, received a threatening message that if certain demands/images were not sent then they would share images on an online pornography site.
Police said: "Again, thankfully, the child was aware enough to know that no such images existed and was able to block their account and talk with a parent. It would seem a few of these messages are going about and are quite likely a bulk delivery in the hope that one vulnerable young person will take the threats seriously and reply to the criminal.
"Whilst these two calls were thankfully prevented from getting any worse there are some really terrible tales from this area where young people have fallen prey to these criminals and found themselves in a really difficult position in who to turn to.
"The bottom line is that only when kids have somebody to turn to when they are feeling scared or vulnerable will they get the help they need."
Detective Inspector Gary McDonald of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch issued advice on how to help if you have a child or feel you are in that difficult position yourself.
He said: "For parents worried about their children using the internet, our advice is to become net-savvy. The best safeguard against online dangers is being informed."
If someone has made you feel uncomfortable or you have had a disturbing interaction online, tell police or a trusted adult. You can ring the police on 101 or for help and advice ring Childline on 0800 1111 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.