Threats made to Flintshire children targeted by man on Snapchat

Reporter:

Rory Sheehan

CHILDREN in Flintshire are being bullied into sending sexually explicit pictures through social media, police have warned.

South Flintshire sergeant Mavis Evans says dozens of children in the area have been contacted through Snapchat and pressured into sending inappropriate images of themselves, and has urged parents to be aware of how their children are using the app.

Snapchat is a mobile phone app which enables you to send images to the friends you have added, which automatically disappear after 10 seconds – but a screengrab can be taken of the image before they disappear.

The accounts targeting children in Flintshire have been traced to a mobile phone in Tunisia.

If the app users’ privacy settings are not secure, anyone they accept as a friend can also contact all their school friends or other people they are friends with on their account.

Sgt Evans says it is “unlikely” the Tunisian user will travel to Flintshire to act on his threats, but because he can trace the children’s exact location through the app, he can use that information to ramp up his threats.

She added that children and parents need to be on top of their privacy settings.

Sgt Evans said: “For example, if he can see exactly where they live and threaten to go there and harm their loved ones, or pinpoint that they are on the High Street in Mold at that moment and say he will go there. 

“It is psychological bullying pure and simple, and just vile.

“The person behind this account lives in Tunisia so he is not going to be coming around here and acting on his threats, but the children don’t understand that, and the threat seems very real.

”He has threatened girls by saying if they don’t send him a sexually explicit picture then he will kill their parents and family, and when they have sent him a picture, he has messaged back demanding more.

”For example if they have a pet in their profile picture he will threaten to come and kill it.”

Sgt Evans praised Hawarden High School for holding an awareness event last week and said a number of children came forward to tell of their experiences of
being contacted and to say they had sent images.

PC Petra Ashton delivered a ‘Risky Pics’ lesson to Year 7 at the school and encouraged them to talk to parents about online activities, following an increase in the number of ‘sexting’ incidents reported to the police.

Sgt Evans added: “The school was brilliant, really positive and helpful, working with our school liaison officers.

“We just need to get the message out to parents to tell their children to make sure their location settings are hidden and account settings private.

“If anyone, parents or children have any concerns, please speak to your school liaison officer.”

Sgt Evans added that Snapchat is investigating and removing certain accounts, but some are difficult to trace and more continue to pop up in their
place.

The minimum age requirement for
social media such as Snapchat is 13.

Account names known by the police to be contacting children in the area from Tunisia are: youssefouni5; youni653; oussef2.5; oussef2.3; ouniyoussef868; and momocmh.

lLeader Comment – page 13.

Email:

rory.sheehan@nwn.co.uk

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