Warnings to York parents over "unsafe" website

York Press: Warnings to York parents over "unsafe" website Warnings to York parents over "unsafe" website

PARENTS at schools around York have been warned their children may be using an inappropriate online chat site.

Messages have been sent to parents of pupils at several schools - including York High School, Millthorpe School and Joseph Rowntree School - following reports of young children becoming involved in conversations with older people through online site and downloadable app Omegle.

Omegle users must be aged over 18, or over 13 with parental permission, although no registration is required to take part in chat through webcam, online or on mobile phones.

Rod Sims, associate headteacher at York High School, said police had attended the school to speak to several young girls who had spoken to someone older through the site on their phones.

Mr Sims said: "Police were involved in speaking to the girls on the dangers and the fact they were speaking to someone who, it appears, weren't who they said they were.

"There are many, many of those sites, it just appears that this one appears to be attracting the wrong sort of user."

The home page of Omegle explains: "When you use Omegle, we pick someone else at random so you can have a one-on-one chat. You're anonymous unless you tell someone who you are (not suggested), and you can stop a chat at any time. If you prefer, you can add your interests, and Omegle will look for someone who's into some of the same things as you instead of someone completely random."

Today, this message was posted on the York High School Facebook page: "We are aware that in our school and in another York school there have been issues with adults pretending to be children on this site which has led to a police investigation. Please do not use this site or any other anonymous chat rooms as you do not know who you are talking to."

A letter posted on Millthorpe School's website on Friday called the website "unsafe", and advised parents to talk to their children about online safety.

Trevor Burton, Millthorpe headteacher, said: "This website is dangerous and could easily be used for the grooming of young people. It has highly adult content.

"I ask that you please check your child is not using these sites, and discuss the dangers of such sites with them. I also urge you to use any blocking facilities your internet provider may give you to block these sites."

Andrew Haigh, deputy headteacher in charge of safeguarding at Joseph Rowntree School, said: "While we are not aware of any child from The Joseph Rowntree School accessing these sites, it is important that schools share information like this to help safeguard young people."

Mr Burton also warned parents that similar sites to Omegle include Zumbi, Chatroulette, Tinychat and Whisper, and urged families to check online safety tips at bbc.co.uk/cbbc/topics/stay-safe or yor-ok.org.uk/SaferChildrenYork

Comments (4)

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11:36am Wed 16 Jul 14

Dave Ruddock says...

Im not a parent, but i see real difficulties, Children should be told "In no uncertain ways" that being nosey, intrigued by these site is unwise, Parents please check children's phone history. Teachers , if possible No Phones on School premises .
As foe companies stating 18 plus etc etc, we all know its just a (Tick Box) , some form of cross checking, and on must sites there is usually an online (Administrator) .
Ultimately Parents should advise (strongly) their children that its the same as talking to strangers in the street.
Im not a parent, but i see real difficulties, Children should be told "In no uncertain ways" that being nosey, intrigued by these site is unwise, Parents please check children's phone history. Teachers , if possible No Phones on School premises . As foe companies stating 18 plus etc etc, we all know its just a (Tick Box) , some form of cross checking, and on must sites there is usually an online (Administrator) . Ultimately Parents should advise (strongly) their children that its the same as talking to strangers in the street. Dave Ruddock
  • Score: -9

9:00pm Wed 16 Jul 14

bobsuncle says...

Dave Ruddock wrote:
Im not a parent, but i see real difficulties, Children should be told "In no uncertain ways" that being nosey, intrigued by these site is unwise, Parents please check children's phone history. Teachers , if possible No Phones on School premises .
As foe companies stating 18 plus etc etc, we all know its just a (Tick Box) , some form of cross checking, and on must sites there is usually an online (Administrator) .
Ultimately Parents should advise (strongly) their children that its the same as talking to strangers in the street.
Unfortunately, the world doesn't work like that and there are restrictions. Some kids aren't even brought up with stranger danger awareness until they reach the age where they can be taught it in citizenship lessons at school.

All people can do is raise awareness about these sites and encourage people (of all ages) not to use them as they are just a waste of time anyway! As for there being an online administrator for 'most sites'... hold on: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat... see the pattern? Those, and many other companies in the social media category don't see administrators online. Plus, if you were to have one online, you wouldn't know if it was a kid or not. The only evidence you have is their IP address and that's just a cookie on their computer which identifies geological information and their ISP (e.g. Virgin, BT, etc). The only way you could see ages is via a registration system which these sites of this nature don't have!

In conclusion, there is no difficulty in blocking a website. You can do it through your ISP. It doesn't take any technical knowledge. It's basic parental controls. Or, you could just watch what your children are doing on the computer,tablet, etc. It's not that hard!
[quote][p][bold]Dave Ruddock[/bold] wrote: Im not a parent, but i see real difficulties, Children should be told "In no uncertain ways" that being nosey, intrigued by these site is unwise, Parents please check children's phone history. Teachers , if possible No Phones on School premises . As foe companies stating 18 plus etc etc, we all know its just a (Tick Box) , some form of cross checking, and on must sites there is usually an online (Administrator) . Ultimately Parents should advise (strongly) their children that its the same as talking to strangers in the street.[/p][/quote]Unfortunately, the world doesn't work like that and there are restrictions. Some kids aren't even brought up with stranger danger awareness until they reach the age where they can be taught it in citizenship lessons at school. All people can do is raise awareness about these sites and encourage people (of all ages) not to use them as they are just a waste of time anyway! As for there being an online administrator for 'most sites'... hold on: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat... see the pattern? Those, and many other companies in the social media category don't see administrators online. Plus, if you were to have one online, you wouldn't know if it was a kid or not. The only evidence you have is their IP address and that's just a cookie on their computer which identifies geological information and their ISP (e.g. Virgin, BT, etc). The only way you could see ages is via a registration system which these sites of this nature don't have! In conclusion, there is no difficulty in blocking a website. You can do it through your ISP. It doesn't take any technical knowledge. It's basic parental controls. Or, you could just watch what your children are doing on the computer,tablet, etc. It's not that hard! bobsuncle
  • Score: 0

7:05am Thu 17 Jul 14

Krozelle says...

A sad reminder that we should remind our children often - not just on e - about the potential danger and risks of online relationships.

The secondary and potentially more worrying issue is why children or minors would want to engage with this type of service. To me at least, it indicates a certain withdrawal from their parental and guardian relationship; some of that is natural enough as children seek to break the bond with parents but needs to be explored further as to "why online?"
A sad reminder that we should remind our children often - not just on e - about the potential danger and risks of online relationships. The secondary and potentially more worrying issue is why children or minors would want to engage with this type of service. To me at least, it indicates a certain withdrawal from their parental and guardian relationship; some of that is natural enough as children seek to break the bond with parents but needs to be explored further as to "why online?" Krozelle
  • Score: -3

11:39am Thu 17 Jul 14

Big Bad Wolf says...

I think that the problem is that most kids are more internet savvy than their parents so monitoring their browser history is difficult.
Maybe a quarterly lesson / talk by the school on the dangers that kids can get them selves into by online meetings would be the way forward?
I think that the problem is that most kids are more internet savvy than their parents so monitoring their browser history is difficult. Maybe a quarterly lesson / talk by the school on the dangers that kids can get them selves into by online meetings would be the way forward? Big Bad Wolf
  • Score: -1
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