The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dangers of Net chats

London, Jan. 6: A £1 million television, radio and online advertising campaign began today to highlight the potential dangers of internet chatrooms.

One of its aims is to encourage parents to make sure their children understand the implications of communicating with strangers in cyberspace.

Predatory paedophiles have used chatrooms to “groom” youngsters for abuse but the government, which is behind the scheme, insists it does not want to demonise the Web.

Home office minister Hilary Benn said: “The internet has opened up a new world for children which is educational, informative and, most of all fun.

“But we are aware of the potential for paedophiles to misuse modern technology to abuse the trust that children place in them by attempting to ‘groom’ them through chatrooms.

“We want to encourage parents to help their children protect themselves so they can surf safely. Parents can play a role in making their children aware that strangers on the internet may not always be who they say they are.”

The month-long advertising campaign is the second phase of the government’s “Safer Surfing” initiative, which was launched last year. It also follows recent proposals in the government's recent “Protecting the Public” paper which called for a new offence of sexual grooming and a civil order to protect youngsters from inappropriate sexual behaviour by adults.

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