Student flash mob to raise awareness of online safety

Picture caption: The performing arts students at Leeds City College, preparing for their flash mob to raise awareness of online grooming.

A group of Leeds City College students took to the streets of Leeds this weekend to raise awareness of online safety for children and young people across the city.

The student arm of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) - which is made up of childcare and education students at Leeds City College, arranged for a dramatic production to demonstrate the dangers of sharing too much information online.

The ‘flash mob’ style performance took place on Saturday 29 November on Lands Lane in Leeds city centre. Performing Arts students from the college have worked with the Student LSCB to produce a powerful performance depicting online grooming – and asks the audience to question if you ever know who you are really talking to online.

The performance has been arranged as part of the ‘Who are you really talking to?” campaign

which was launched earlier this year in partnership with West Yorkshire Police, local children’s safeguarding boards and local authorities.

A member of the student safeguarding children board said:

“We’re really proud of the campaign and hope that the flash mob raises awareness of the dangers of online grooming.”

Jane Held, chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said:

“The student LSCB members are doing a fantastic job raising awareness about how to stay safe online amongst children and young people. Their idea for a flash-mob performance on a busy Saturday in Leeds city centre will help spread this important message to many people who we would not normally be able to reach.”

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said:

“This is a great initiative with these young people coming up with their own, innovative way of getting across the message that people you speak to online may not be who they say they are. We need everyone to play their part by knowing the signs of child sexual exploitation and reporting anything of concern to us so that we can take positive action.”

The online multi-agency campaign is being run across West Yorkshire to make young people more aware of the risks behind chat forums and other interactive platforms. It forms part of the ongoing initiative entitled ‘Know the Signs’ which aims to highlight the issues of child sexual exploitation and encourage victims to report it.

Over the past few months, web, Facebook and Twitter posts have been released which feature an image of a two teenagers in an online conversation. The graphic then reveals that one of them is actually a sexual predator and not the person they are purporting to be.

The aim of the campaign is to highlight that:

• when you are taking to a stranger online, you can’t be sure that the person is who they say they are;

• what online grooming is and how to recognise it;

• how to stay safe online;

• up-loading personal information online that is viewable to all and could enable people to identify where you live and contact you;

• sexual exploitation can be hard to recognise because you might have developed a friendship/ relationship with someone online;

• sexual exploitation is not normal and is a form of abuse.

To report suspected Child Sexual Exploitation people should contact the police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For more information on online safety, visit: www.leedslscb.org.uk/Children-Young-People/online-safety and www.westyorkshire.police.uk/who-r-u-talking-2.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk