The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) in partnership with the Social Development Department is urging parents to safeguard their children’s usage of smart devices, especially during the holiday period.
Inspector of the Family & Juvenile Unit at the RVIPF John Antione said the authorities opted to make the appeal following recent reports that minors are being exposed to inappropriate material.
“We are seeing reports where young children are exposed to pornography or sending pornographic material via social media and it is concerning. Parents and guardians should be very mindful of the activities children are engaged in and offer proper supervision at all times,” Inspector Antione said.
Meanwhile, Head of Family, Children & Protective Services within the Social Development Department, Laurel Freeman, said it will take the collective effort of persons within the neighbourhood to effectively ensure that children are supervised.
“At this time, in particular, we want parents to play their role but we want members of the community to also feel inclined to protect any child, whether it be lending assistance to ensure proper supervision while parents work or monitoring proper electronic use on various devices such as tablets, computers, video games, cell phones,” Freeman stated.
She added: “Safeguarding children is a community effort and any suspicion of abuse should be reported to the relevant authorities. Moreover, it is important that young children are properly supervised. Parents should seek out an activity-based programme or arrange proper supervision by a trusted adult.”
Tips for parents
The Social Development Department also issued a number of tips for parents to consider. These include engaging with children in more family activities, encouraging more reading through books, and encouraging interaction by socialising and learning from the environment.
The department further advised parents to set clear rules about device usage and time (approximately two hours) and implement them, along with always monitoring what children watch on electronic devices.