A MOTHER has spoken of her horror at discovering a ‘sexual predator’ was trying to groom her 15-year-old son through social networking site Facebook.

The mother-of-three said she stumbled across a suspicious internet conversation between her son and the man who was pretending to be a 15-year-old boy.

The pervert had requested naked pictures and sexually graphic images from the teen as well as posting explicit photographs on his site.

Police are now investigating the incident and three other allegations that the man, who is in his 20s, attempted to incite a child into sexual activity.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she wanted to highlight the dangers children face when using chat rooms and social networking sites following her son’s experience.

She said: “I insisted on being a Facebook friend of my son’s so I could keep on an eye on the people he was talking to, but I never imagined anything like this would happen.

“Late one evening I was on Facebook and my son popped up on the instant chat. I sent him a message and instantly he went offline. I thought this was strange so I went on his wall and saw that he had made friends with someone new.

“As I looked at the messages this person had left, my motherly instinct kicked in and I felt something wasn’t right.

“I went on to look at this supposed ‘boy’s’ information and he had listed his likes as pre-teen boy pictures and videos. This turned the alarm bells in my head into massive church bells.”

The 40-year-old mum called the police who took statements from both her and her son.

She said: “I am really relieved that the police are involved. But I am angry that this person has been able to do this.

“I have been on courses about safeguarding children so I knew what to look for, but other parents who see no harm with the internet really need to know what their children are up to.

“I have no doubt that if I had not spotted this my son would have eventually been convinced to meet him in person.

“Both me and my son feel as though he has been abused. He no longer feels comfortable going online and I feel networking sites should do more to safeguard children.

“Anyone under 16 should have to get parental permission to access sites. If parents don’t know how to use the internet they should get to a local library or education centre that will show them exactly what to do.”

The family, from Rossendale, intend to lobby their MP Jake Berry to bring up the issue in Parliament.

Det Sgt Mark Gillibrand, who has run the investigation, said: “This mother’s actions must be praised as her bravery has potentially prevented other young people being targeted by this man.

“I would encourage any parent worried or suspicious about online behaviour to report the person or comments online to the police directly or to the site administrator who will contact the police on the users behalf.”

Police said the other alleged cases involved the same man were concerned with young people in the Bath and Manchester areas.

A spokesman for Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP), a police initiative set up to safeguard children, said: “Young people are encouraged to keep their online profiles set to private.

This will mean that only their ‘friends’ will be able to see their information.

“Young people should also think about who they are talking to online. If they don’t know the person in the real world, there’s really no need to talk to them online.

“If a young person is worried about someone’s online behaviour towards them, they can access advice and guidance on a range of issues through the ClickCEOP button, or they can report their concerns directly to specialist officers at the CEOP Centre.

“The button can be found in a number of online environments including Facebook, MySpace, MSN Messenger and also on the CEOP website www.ceop.police.uk.”

A Facebook spokesman said: “Facebook takes the safety of its users very seriously and takes significant efforts to make sure that the interactions encountered on the site are done so in a safe manner.

“We strongly urge all users to report suspicious people and inappropriate content when they come across it on the site.”

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