A POLICEMAN adopted a false persona online to highlight the risks posed by the web.
Youth Crime Reduction Officer PC Martin Carter visited Maidstone Grammar School for Girls on Tuesday for Internet Safety Day and spoke to students about cyberbullying, identity theft and grooming.
He told students how he had set himself up on five social networking sites in as many minutes using his caravan as his profile name and picture.
He said: "I know the three members of staff who have got video clips of themselves online. I also know there are 470 of you registered in this school on Facebook."
A quick poll of pupils showed most had internet access and several had webcams in their bedroom.
A handful of students also said they had been sent abusive texts or emails.
PC Carter urged people to report any internet abuse. He stressed: "Unfortunately cyber bullying is a growing trend and young people need to know that sending threatening texts or emails is a crime and they can be held to account.
"Many people think they can’t be traced when sending this type of message but they are not anonymous."
According to PC Carter one of the main problems is web cams, he said: "We have got young people who are being coerced and manipulated online so they feel they’ve got to engage in activities such as showing their bodies for the benefit of the person on the other side of the screen."
Kent Police will visit schools throughout Kent in the coming weeks to discuss Internet safety.