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Groundbreaking conference aims to make children aware of internet safety

Children in Warwickshire are putting themselves at risk of internet predators according to worrying new figures released today.

Dozens of youngsters have admitted to meeting up with people they only know online – and in many cases have done so without telling anyone where they’re going.

Teachers, youth and welfare workers from Warwickshire today (Friday 18 May) learned ways to show young people how to protect themselves when using the internet at home. The conference, which was held at the Ricoh Arena who also sponsored the event, was the largest local authority event of its kind in the country.

The internet safety conference was organised following a survey of more than 750 thirteen and 14-year-olds at schools in Warwickshire. Of these, 286 stated that they use the internet every day, and 248 said they had given out personal information to people that they only knew online.

Just over 150 young people had been asked by someone online to meet up with them face to face. Of these, 63 young people had met up with someone that they only knew online and shockingly 18 young people did not tell anyone that they were going to meet up with their internet contact.

The conference was organised by the Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board and the Warwickshire Safer Schools initiative. Both bring together public sector organisations including Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police to share good practice and innovation in child safety.

The conference featured workshops delivered by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), a national body working across the UK tackling child sex abuse.

Assistant Chief Constable Bill Holland said: “These figures are alarming and show how vulnerable our children are when it comes to using the internet. All too often they willingly give out personal information without thinking about the consequences. There are well-documented cases where children have gone off to meet someone they’ve met online, believing them to be the same age as themselves, when the other person is an adult who is looking to exploit or abuse them.”

Chris Hallett, Head of Children In Need at Warwickshire County Council and Chair of the Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board, added: “This conference is to highlight to practitioners working in children’s services the dangers children can face, particularly when using the internet at home. Children all learn about ‘stranger danger’ when they are young. This is about extending that message so they think about their actions when they are online.

“We would urge parents not to panic but to make sure they know what their children are doing on the internet, and that the young people themselves are aware of the possible pitfalls of chat rooms and social networking sites.”

Websites and Tips

For Parents

1. Explain to your children that they should never give out personal details to online friends.

2. Explain that if your child publishes a picture or video online of themselves, remind them that they do not have any control over how that image can be changed, copied or published anywhere else on the Internet.

3. Explain that some people may not be telling the truth about themselves so it is always better to keep online mates online, rather than meeting up with them. They should never arrange to meet up with strangers without an adult they know and trust being with them. Learn how to block someone on line, so they cannot make contact with you and show your children how to do this as well. Encourage your children to always report on the internet that makes them feel uncomfortable.

4. Always ensure that the computer your child uses can be viewed easily by yourselves. Set it up in one of the family rooms in the house where you all have access to and not up in your child’s bedroom.





Tips For Children and Young People

1. Don’t give out your personal details online.

2. Don’t put pictures of yourself on the Internet – an online image can easily be changed, copied or moved elsewhere.

3. It’s better to keep online mates online. Don’t meet up with any strangers without an adult you trust. Better to be uncool than unsafe!

4. Block people who are making you feel uncomfortable and report them if you are worried via http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk

5. Talk to an adult you trust if you are worried about anything