Sunday, April 29, 2007

Internet safety for kids

LESSONS on how to spot and avoid paedophiles on the internet will be given to every secondary school pupil in Scotland.
Specially trained police officers will teach 285,000 youngsters how to use the web safely without falling victim to the "horrendous crime" of grooming.

A virtual police station is also being set up where pupils who suspect they have been targeted can make an official report. It is estimated 31% of all youngsters in Britain have been targeted by potential sex offenders.
All Scottish children aged 11 to 16 will be invited to seminars this year where they will learn how to protect themselves online and about signs of potential threat.
The Thinkuknow campaign is being launched by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, created last year by the government to counter cybercrime against youngsters.
It will involve police and a group of teachers, who are receiving specialist training, presenting a programme of dos and don'ts to youngsters.
There will be interactive presentations, discussion groups and work parties to highlight the risks facing children from predators.
As well as anti-paedophile experts, children themselves - many of whom have already fallen prey to offenders - have been consulted about how best to tackle the problem.
Research shows one in three children in the UK have received unwanted sexual comments either online or by text message, but fewer than 5% of their parents are aware of this.
And with 75% of British youngsters aged between nine and 19 having internet access at home, the potential for abuse is already high and increasing daily.
Jim Gamble, CEOP's chief executive described Thinkuknow as a major step forward. He explained: "The internet is now integral to the lives of our children. It is omnipresent and in many households now acts as a new member of the family.
"Yet, for many parents, what their children are doing online is a mystery. Children themselves, however, continue to push boundaries with possibilities that are almost endless."
Gamble added: "Let's be realistic. The internet will not go away and we encourage everyone to use it and maximise it for all the legitimate opportunities that it creates. But where children go, then the predator will follow and in the same way as we safeguard our playgrounds, our parks, our streets, we must secure, in whatever way possible, the public place that is the internet."
Gamble said the Thinkuknow campaign was the first of its kind, not only because it had been designed by police, child protection specialists and children working together, but because it included a dedicated, online reporting service.
"This means children and young people can report any instances of inappropriate online contact themselves," he said. "Empowering children is one critical way of helping safeguard youngsters. Saying to them: 'Have fun', while making them aware of the dangers and allowing them to walk into a virtual police environment if they feel threatened makes massive sense.
"It is a simple approach but one that is vital and if used the right way, as recent investigations have shown, will allow us to protect children in a way that is proactive, dynamic and, above all, powerful in bringing the offender to account." Why dont we do that here in the US, where the problem is even worse?

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