Comment: Talk to your kids about sexting risks

File picture: Julie Bull
File picture: Julie Bull
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WOULD you know a CD9 from an ASL?

If you don’t and you are the parent of a young teenager then you might have some homework to do. The world of online chatrooms can be baffling for most people who were already adults when the 21st century began.

So lots of parents won’t know that a CD9 is an acronym for Code 9 or in other words an alert to let online friends know that their parents are around. The other abbreviation is also useful to know if you are a parent. ASL is short for age, sex, location and often used by children using anonymous chatrooms to disclose their personal details. The acronymns and other useful information is available on the website parentinfo.org which was set up in partnership with the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Discovering some of these terms on your child’s phone or computer, or worse still explicit images, is a nightmare for parents. Yet it is something that is happening increasingly in the Lothians. The police have seen a dramatic rise in recent years, with parents often terrified about what their children may have got themselves into. Many incidents turn out to be teenagers sending pictures of themselves to their boyfriend or girlfriend, rather than anything more sinister, although that obviously carries its own risks.

Thankfully, police in the Capital take a pragmatic approach to these cases, with the aim of keeping youngsters safe, rather than needlessly criminalising them.

But every parent should consider the advice of Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald to talk to their children about the risks they open themselves up to when they go online.

Subjects such as sexting are awkward and embarrassing for any parent to raise, but far better youngsters learn the truth about the pitfalls in their own home than discover them the hard way.