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New initiative launched to keep children safe online

By Deborah McAleese

Four children every day across the UK are at immediate risk from online paedophiles or bullies, the head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has warned.

In a bid to educate children from as young as five on how to stay safe on-line, CEOP has launched a new interactive cartoon — Lee and Kim Adventures — to be shown in schools across the UK and for parents to use at home. The cartoon was shown yesterday to pupils at Rathcoole Primary School in Newtownabbey.

To mark European Safer Internet Day 2010 today, CEOP has also launched, in partnership with Microsoft, the UK’s first ever ‘ClickCEOP’ browser that will sit on Internet Explorer 8 and provide users of all ages with direct access to CEOP’s internet safety advice.

CEOP director, Ulster man Jim Gamble, said that each month CEOP sees an average of 500 reports, of which an average of four a day indicates that a child may be at immediate risk.

“That is the harsh reality of child protection. But so often we leave our young people vulnerable because we fear the technology,” he said.

“That is like saying we can’t teach children how to be safe when crossing the road because we don’t understand how a car engine works or the risk if that car is driven in a dangerous way,” said Mr Gamble.

He added: “This is about behaviour, not technology. But it is also about delivering contemporary, dynamic advice that is sympathetic to the needs of the children and young people we reach and helps the parent or carer to play their role in a way that is positive, supportive and understanding. CEOP’s materials do that.”

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