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MORE than half of Britain's secondary school children are fascinated by the occult, according to new survey.

Shocked teachers say pupils are learning about the supernatural on the internet.

Fifty-four per cent of 11 to 16 year olds know about black magic and one in six are frightened by what they discover.

Girls and youngsters from ethnic minorities are the most likely to be scared.

The Mori poll found that children browsing the net unsupervised can hit upon areas of the occult such as how to become a witch, how to cast spells and where to find out about blood- letting ceremonies.

It was commissioned by teaching union ATL. General Secretary Peter Smith said last night: "This is an extremely worrying trend.

"Youngsters can easily visit a choice of hundreds of websites on witchcraft without adults having any control as to what they are reading.

"Parents and teachers will want to educate children about the dangers of dabbling in the occult before they get too deeply involved. This goes beyond a case of reading Harry Potter."

Union chiefs found several internet sites with pages packed full of sinister information.

The biggest interest in the occult is in the Midlands where 60 per cent of pupils quizzed said they had read up on the supernatural. The south-west come close with 59 per cent.

Of the 2,600 pupils who took part in the survey 26 per cent said they had a "strong interest" in the subject.
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Author:Education, RICHARD GARNER
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2000
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