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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Pupils reminded of internet safety
Children on the net
Children are advised not give out personal details on the net
Internet savvy schoolchildren are to be reminded about the dangers of revealing personal details online as part of an expanding web safety campaign.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) launched a national campaign, including talks, workshops and a film featuring a boy who was abused by a paedophile whom he met in an online chatroom.

Over 1,000 police officers, teachers and child protection teams will deliver the programme to schools across the UK examining issues like social networking, gaming sites and chat rooms.

CEOP believe that a million children will have taken part in the sessions by March 2007, with other phases to be rolled out on an ongoing basis.

Jim Gamble, the head of CEOP, said he hoped the warnings set out in the ThinkuKnow programme would help children rethink whether they would physically meet up with people they befriended online.

"The internet is not infested with paedophiles, but one paedophile on the internet can pretend to be many different people.

It's a nice feeling that by doing something simple other people will be benefiting
Rishi Patel
Youth panel member

"We've accepted we can't tackle the problem ourselves.

"Children are the most technology savvy people, so we want to empower children to protect themselves and their peers.

"And this will mean the next generation of parents will also be more informed."

A facility has also be introduced on the ThinkuKnow website which allows children to report any incidents where there has been inappropriate online contact.

Government support

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker welcomed the initiative.

"We don't want people to stop using the internet but we want to arm children and their parents with good practical advice."

Helen Penn, the head of education at CEOP, said the pilot schemes had already made a difference.

"We've already launched pilot programmes with 40,000 children and we got feedback that it was changing their risk-taking behaviour.

"It made them rethink what risks they were willing to take in terms of giving out personal details or meeting up with people.

"We're starting with 11- to 16-year-olds because more in that age group have computers in their bedrooms."

She acknowledged there was a technology gap between children and adults, so a teacher and parents programme would also be launched next year.

Youth panel

Rishi Patel was one of the 60-strong youth panel who helped with the design of the campaign.

The 16-year-old student from Ealing, west London, wanted to make sure that the programme would appeal to young people.

"We wanted to avoid a nagging approach, because the advice given before was all about 'don't do this or don't do that'.

Rishi Patel
Rishi Patel is part of the youth panel who helped with the campaign

"Instead we wanted to put more emphasis on telling young people to take more control, so it's a suggestive rather than an authoritative approach.

"While there is a serious risk of being groomed on the internet, we're now in a much stronger position to deal with the problem.

"It's a nice feeling that by doing something simple other people will be benefiting."

Mr Gamble said over the past five months CEOP had received 1,200 reports from internet users, half of which related to online grooming.

He said his staff had passed about four cases a week to police forces across the country.


SEE ALSO
Child online safety card unveiled
02 Aug 06 |  Technology
Web 'grooming' paedophile jailed
14 Jul 06 |  Suffolk
Blogging 'a paedophile's dream'
26 Jan 05 |  Scotland

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