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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 17:50 GMT
Library ban over chatroom fears
Teenager using the internet, Boy using
Children will be prevented from accessing chatrooms

Measures to stop children from being groomed over the internet by paedophiles have been taken by a south Wales valleys council.

Blaenau Gwent have become the latest local authority to blocked access to chatrooms via computers in their libraries.

Latest research shows that despite warnings children are still arranging to meet people they talk to online.

Chatroom users have no way of knowing the real identity of who they are communicating with and paedophiles have been known to use the arena to groom children for abuse.

A study by Cyberspace Research Unit at the University of Central Lancashire showed that 60% of children do not know the people they chat to online.

The answer really is to talk to your children
John Carr

Internet consultant for childrens' charity NCH Action for Children, John Carr, said parents should warn their children of the dangers.

"The answer really is to talk to your children, get them to understand that chatrooms, although they can be fun, there can be some people in there who could be very dodgy indeed.

"They need to be aware that they are meeting strangers and they are not necessarily going to be who they claim to be."

Last month, a former US marine admitted abducting a 12-year-old girl he met in a chatroom.

Toby Studabaker, 32, of Michigan, pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court to abduction and incitement to gross indecency.

The case was adjourned until 2 April for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports.

Some councils use electronic filtering systems to limit use of the net in their libraries.

Other local authorities say they require parental permission before anyone under 16 can surf the web.

Blaenau Gwent decided to ban the use of internet chatrooms from all its libraries at a meeting of council executives on Wednesday.

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