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Government gets tough on grooming

Ad campaign aims to stop kids falling for internet paedophiles

The government is to spend £1m on an advertising campaign to run on television, radio and online, aimed at teaching parents and children about the dangers of communicating with strangers on the internet.

"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," explains Home Office minister Hilary Benn.

The advertising campaign, which launches today, features adult actors speaking with the voice of a child to illustrate how easy it is for paedophiles to masquerade as children online and gain the confidence of genuine youngsters.

The campaign will run until the end of January on TV and radio, while the online ads on teen websites and chatrooms will continue until the end of March. The campaign is accompanied by a website with tips on safe use of the net at www.thinkuknow.co.uk.

The government's Taskforce on Child Protection on the Internet, made up of representatives from the government, the internet industry, child welfare organisations and the police, has also come up with models of good practice for internet content and service providers. These outline how they can make their services safer for children.

These models focus on chat, instant messaging and web services. They state that across all these services there is a need for clear, easily accessible information about the product offered and that there should relevant safety messages and tools provided.

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