CHILDREN as young as 11 are being targeted online by sexual predators, Avon and Somerset Police has warned.

The force is urging parents to be aware of their children's online habits after a number of reports of children being approached by sexual predators whilst gaming.

Recent incidents in Avon and Somerset have included:

  • An 11-year old contacted via Instagram and asked to send naked photos of themselves.
  • A 14-year old contacted via Snapchat and threatened with violence. The offender said they knew where they lived and went to school as their snap maps were open. They said they would find them if they didn't send images
  • An 11-year old contacted via Roblox and threatened that their family would be harmed if they didn't send sexual videos
  • A 14-year old who believed that they were 'in a relationship' with a 19-year-old over Instagram. The '19-year-old' was in fact an older person who had convinced the child that they were in love.
  • Two 12-year-olds targeted via Snapchat, by a predator posing as a class mate, who coerced and threatened them into supplying sexual pictures.
  • A general rise in 14 and 15-year-olds sending images to strangers

Detective Chief Inspector Larisa Hunt, lead for Operation Topaz, Avon and Somerset Police?s child sexual and internet exploitation team said: "These reports are very worrying, and unfortunately they are on the rise.

"Parents may think that these apps are harmless but they can provide opportunities for sexual predators to target children.

"Please talk to your children about staying safe online, make sure you know what they are doing, and who they are talking to at all times."

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