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Tech's growing - is your knowledge on how to keep safe growing with it?

A 22-year-old woman has been murdered after meeting a man she met online. British backpacker Grace Millane was on a round–the–world trip when she met her date on Tinder. In CCTV footage shown during the trial, Grace is seen smiling and enjoying the company of a male.

The CCTV footage recorded the two visiting a number of bars before showing her final moments in an elevator. This footage was the last the world saw of Grace before she entered the killer's apartment in Auckland, New Zealand. The 27-year old who cannot be named for legal reasons allegedly strangled Ms Millane.

The dangers of the online world are an ever-growing cause for concern. Sky News reported in April 2019, “Reported crimes relating to online dating have risen dramatically in the last five years.” From the Police forces in the UK, 2,054 offences were recorded between the years 2011 to 2016.

A 2016 article by The Telegraph reported, “Tinder and Grinder linked to more than 500 crimes.” According to this article, more than 500 people have fallen victim to murder, rape and child abuse as a result of using dating apps. According to the NSPCC, “Over 5,000 online grooming offences recorded in 18 months.”

In 2014, 14-year-old Breck Bednar fell victim to online grooming. Having met the predator on a gaming website, Breck was lured to a flat and tragically murdered. Over the course of several months, Breck was manipulated into believing this predator was his friend.

Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave began educating young people about the dangers of the virtual world. Through her organisation named after her son, Lorin has travelled to schools all around the U.K.

In an interview with JLDN, Lorin shares what she aspires for the Breck Foundation to achieve:

What does the foundation aspire to do?

“We strive to educate the digital generation to keep safe online through education and being empowered to make safer decisions. Every child will get what’s called online safety at school, but we strive to do it in a real and more engaging way using Breck’s real life story. Breck was my son who was groomed online 5 years ago.”

How is it achieving its goal?

“We speak to pupils, teachers, parents, police, safeguarding leads, anyone we can, to talk about the signs of grooming. To talk about how to recognise those signs and how to act upon them. So many people will engage with people online, and they just don’t know, we don’t know everyone online. They’re strangers, we’re not saying they’re bad, we’re saying we don’t know who they are. So, we teach young people to make safer decisions and safer choices when they start to have a relationship with someone online, so that they don’t put themselves into a position that could harm them.

What can young people do to keep safe?

“The biggest thing we have,” Lorin says, “is a tag line called, “Play virtual, Live real”. " That tag line is a reminder to everyone not just young people, but even as we get older, that everyone we meet online is a stranger.

“And so, if we ever want to meet up with them, if we feel that they might be someone we’re interested in, we need to do it in an extremely safe and public place.

“Breck, my son, didn’t know that rule and he went to the predators flat, where he was lured with offers of career opportunities and knowledge about computing. But grooming can be through so many different shared interests. And we want to make sure that young people grow into old people who don’t make that mistake before they meet up with somebody who they don’t really know and can’t walk away from a situation when they’re ready.”

As time progresses, so does the digital world. Young people are growing side by side with technology, which means learning how to keep safe is essential.

To find out more about The Breck Foundation, visit: breckfoundation.org where advice about how to keep safe online is given.

“And remember, your online friends are not the same as your real ones.”

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