Northern Ireland

2,100 cyber crimes reported in Northern Ireland in 2012

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Media captionA play is to be performed tackling issues of online safety, grooming and cyber-bullying.

Reported crimes on social network sites Facebook and Twitter in Northern Ireland increased from 71 in 2010 to 2,100 in 2012, police have revealed.

The figure was revealed as a initiative aimed at making teenagers aware of cyber crime is launched on Monday.

A play is to be performed at a school on the outskirts of Belfast, tackling issues of online safety, grooming and cyber-bullying.

It will be followed by a conference on exploitation and trafficking.

Police are working alongside community safety partnerships to raise awareness of the issue among young people.

UK-wide research carried out by children's charity the NSPCC and published in August showed that almost one in five children who use social networking sites suffered a negative experience last year.

This included bullying, unwanted sexual messages, cyber stalking and feeling pressure to look a certain way.

PSNI Supt Yvonne Davidson said an increasing number of young people were becoming victims of cyber crime.

"With teenagers spending an increasing amount of time online we identified young people as particularly at risk from cyber crime," she said.

"The ease of access to social media and other networks provided by smartphone technology means that children are now rarely if ever 'offline'.

"As a consequence cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online grooming and harassment are day to day realities faced by many young people.

"As parents and as a society we must face up to this and equip our children with the right tools and skills to negotiate the online world safely and to recognise any danger signs when they occur."

Students at every secondary and grammar school in the police district covering Ards, Castlereagh, North Down and Down will get the chance to see Escape v2.0: The City, a play by the Saltmine Trust Theatre Company.

It tackles a range of online safety issues from cyber bullying and sexting to online grooming.

Dundonald High School on the outskirts of east Belfast will be the venue for the first performance of the play.

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