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Site set on tackling web prowlers

A new website aimed at helping to protect children from internet grooming by paedophiles has been launched.

The education minister wants parents to use the "chat safer" website to learn the dangers, especially if they are buying computers for Christmas.   Peter Peacock said that while computers can be useful and fun, they must be used safely and wisely.  

Former Hear'Say star Myleene Klass, who experienced the threat at first hand, has backed the campaign.   A man impersonated the singer and communicated with a fan in an online chatroom.   She only realised what had happened when the fan later wrote to her thanking her for a chat that Ms Klass could not recall.    She immediately contacted child protection agency the NSPCC.   Ms Klass said: "Speaking from my own personal experience, I would like to urge children to be aware when using the internet.   "Make sure you limit all information by not including your school details, your surname and even your mobile telephone number.   "And if you really must meet with somebody from the net ensure your parents go with you."

Police figures show that about two instances of children being groomed are reported in Scotland each month.   The activities of paedophiles, many of whom pose as young internet surfers, are being highlighted as part of the safety drive.   The campaign follows on from a UK-wide initiative by the Home Office with its own advertising and advice service.   John Carr, internet adviser for children's charity NCH, welcomed the executive's move.

Mr Carr told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's a key time for sales of new technology and what with the long winter nights it's absolutely certain that lots of children will be going into chatrooms over the next couple of weeks.   "Statistically the chances of any given child falling foul in some way or other on the internet are very small but it's no consolation to know that after the event if it's happened to your child.   "So what we say and what this website says to parents is to be aware of what the hazards are, make sure your child is, and then let them go online and have fun."

Research by NCH has shown that nearly half of parents in Scotland do not believe the net is dangerous for their children and 52% allow children to surf unsupervised.   Mr Carr said basic precautions include using moderated chatrooms, never give out personal information and do not give out contact details like mobile phone numbers.   The Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill is currently going through parliament.

The executive said it would strengthen the law on sexual grooming by making it a specific offence and bring forward other measures to protect children from potential sex offenders.

The new website can be found at www.chatsafer.co.uk.

Source: BBC NEWS

 
 

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