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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Children taught about 'grooming'
Child on computer
The site aims to teach children about the dangers of the internet
A website aimed at educating children about the dangers of the internet has been launched.

The Websafecrackerz site teaches youngsters how to spot possible paedophiles by highlighting grooming techniques frequently used.

It also includes actual conversations between predators and children on chatrooms.

The site has been launched by msn.com, the Home Office, the BBC and the University of Central Lancashire.

Rachel O'Connell, a psychologist from the university's cyberspace research unit, said: "Having the opportunity to educate kids so that this doesn't happen to them is an extraordinary step forward.

To my knowledge it certainly is the first time actual examples of conversations have been used in a preventative way like this
Rachel O'Connell
"It is vitally important to start building children's understanding of online activities from a very early age.

"The more equipped and streetwise or internet-wise we can make these kids then the less likely it is they are going to run into dangers."

The site is designed to appear like a video game to appeal to the high-risk teenage audience.

And it includes a sample chatroom conversation in which a paedophile, going under the name Boyfriend For You Only tries to groom a teenage girl, Angel.

He asks her if anyone else in her house uses her computer, if she is in her bedroom and if she has a webcam.

'Risk assessment'

He then presses the point, asking if her parents use the computer, to which Angel replies: "No way!"

"Basically, this guy is conducting a risk assessment. What's the likelihood these activities are going to be detected by parents," adds Ms O'Connell.

"So that's why questions about the location of the computer are crucial.

"To my knowledge it certainly is the first time actual examples of conversations have been used in a preventative way like this."


SEE ALSO:
Student 'groomed' girl for sex
02 Apr 04  |  Technology


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