People who sexually offend against children and young people often use Internet chat rooms and social network sites such as Facebook. If you are in a chat room or on a site and have made a friend with someone in there, be aware that they may not be who they say they are. They could easily lie about their age, interests etc. and you would not know. If you ask them for a photo, they could send you a photo of someone else. Remember, you can never be sure who you are communicating with in a chat room. However well you think you know someone, they’re still a stranger until you’ve seen them in the flesh.
Do not give out any personal information over the internet, i.e. in chat rooms, or when gaming (playing an interactive game online). Do not tell anyone your address, telephone number etc. Choose a ‘nickname’ to use when in chat rooms or gaming, rather than your real name. Don’t ever choose anything that is sexually suggestive.
We would advise you not to meet anyone you have communicated with via the Internet. However, if you do arrange to meet with someone, make sure you take a parent/carer with you and that you meet in a public, busy place.
Make sure you only enter chat rooms and websites that are suitable for your age.
If someone is using sexual or threatening language towards you in a chat room, leave it straight away and report it to the people/person who run the chat room.
Mobile Phone Safety
People who sexually offend against children and young people sometimes use mobile phones to try and meet up with them, or encourage them to send photographs of themselves.
Do not respond to text messages from people who you don’t know.
Do not be encouraged to send photographs of yourself to anyone you don’t know or trust via photo messaging. They could be forwarded to paedophiles, sexual offenders or posted on the internet.
Try and make arrangements to meet up with friends by speaking on the telephone, rather than text messaging. Mobile phones sometimes get lost or stolen. If it falls into the hands of a sexual offender, he may send text messages to the friends in the address book of the phone, arranging to meet up with them.
Chatting on your mobile phone or texting, when you are out alone, means that you will be less aware of what is going on around you, and less likely to spot any dangers.
Staying Safe when Out and About – Especially at Night
Don’t go off on your own – stay with your friends.
Be alert and aware of everything that is going on around you and try and look confident. Research has shown that sexual offenders are less likely to attack someone who looks confident.
Trust your instincts if you feel in any danger, and act to make yourself safe.
Use routes that you know, and avoid paths and streets that are not well lit.
Always let your parent/carer know where you are going, and what time you will be home. If your plans change, let them know by telephoning or texting them.
Make arrangements for getting home late at night way in advance, e.g. before you go out for the evening, book a taxi to pick you up or arrange for a parent/carer to collect you. This will ensure you won’t be hanging around in the street late at night waiting to get home, or end up walking home.
Make sure you have enough money to get a taxi/minicab home and keep a telephone number of a registered taxi/minicab company in your mobile phone.
If you are taking a taxi or minicab, make sure that it is an official, registered taxi. You can check this by looking for a plate that registered taxi’s have on the boot or bumper of their car. Some sexual offenders wait around for people who can’t get home, pretending to be a taxi or a minicab.
Carry a rape or personal alarm. (You can buy these at local hardware stores)
Never walk home alone or accept a lift from someone you don’t know well. Never hitchhike.
If you have a mobile phone, keep it with you at all times ensuring that it is charged and has credit (however, don’t flash it around). Teach your parents/carers how to send and receive text messages.
If you feel like you are being followed, cross the road and look to see who is behind you. If you still feel you are being followed, cross the road again, keep moving to a busy area, a shop or a garage, all the time looking for someone who can help you.
Wearing headphones whilst out walking means you will be less aware of any danger.
Don’t talk to anyone you don’t know when you are out on your own. You don’t need to be rude if someone speaks to you or asks you for directions, you could just pretend that you didn’t hear them.
Safety from Date Rape Drugs
Keep your drink with you at all times. This applies to soft drinks, tea and coffee, as well as alcoholic drinks.
Try and buy drinks in a bottle, and keep your finger over the top.
Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know.
Alcohol and Drugs Safety
If you use alcohol or drugs, please use them sensibly.
If you are heavily under their influence you will be much less able to look after yourself:
- Your may be unable to move your body, so you would be less able to get away from a dangerous situation or stop something from happening that you don’t want.
- You may be less able to make clear decisions about how far you want to go sexually with someone.
- You may make unwise decisions, such as walking home alone, or getting a lift with someone you don’t know very well.
- Alcohol dulls your instincts and awareness of danger.
If someone is trying to get you drunk or encouraging you to use drugs, think about why this may be – what is in it for them?
Safety on a Date
If you are going on a date, make sure someone knows who you are meeting and where you are meeting them. If possible, take an adult or even a friend with you for the first date and meet in a busy, public place.
Think carefully about going home with someone you don’t know well, or inviting them to your home. Plan how you will get home after the date.