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EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 06:33 GMT
Paedophile caution for young net users
Boy at computer
Young surfers are urged to be careful
A campaign to warn youngsters about the dangers posed by paedophiles on the internet is being launched by Scotland's education minister.

The 120,000 campaign is the Scottish Executive's latest attempt to crack down on paedophiles who try to lure unsuspecting young people through so-called chatroom "grooming".

Over the next few weeks, a series of cinema and radio adverts will be broadcast telling youngsters what to do if they feel under threat.

Education Minister Cathy Jamieson said paedophiles were expert at lulling young internet surfers into a feeling of false security.

Chatrooms can be great fun but users need to take sensible precautions

Education Minister Cathy Jamieson
But she said the 'Think U Know' campaign, which also has its own website and mirrors a campaign being launched south of the border, would show young people how to avoid being trapped by unsavoury adults.

She said: "Paedophiles use clever grooming tactics to worm their way into the hearts and minds of girls and boys on the internet.

"They may adopt false identities, getting young people to give away personal details. Sometimes they arrange to meet and this can put their victims in real danger.

"Chatrooms can be great fun but users need to take sensible precautions. Young people shouldn't give out personal details like their address, phone number or e-mail.

Safe surfing

"If anyone is getting heavy or making young people feel uncomfortable, they should log off."

The minister added: "Young people shouldn't be afraid to tell someone if, for example, they get unwanted e-mails or text messages.

"The campaign website, www.thinkuknow.co.uk, contains lots more advice on safe surfing for young people and their parents or carers, and directs them to other sources of information and support.

"The internet offers endless opportunities. A little bit of thought when surfing the net or chatting online will keep these opportunities safe and fun."

Radio and cinema adverts promoting the 'Think U Know' campaign will run throughout the month.

The campaign is the latest in a line of executive moves to protect youngsters, including new measures to prevent child prostitution and the creation of a list of people deemed unsuitable to work with children.

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