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Byline: Ceri Gould

Iam sorry but I must not, I simply must not, make any reference to the, you know, thingies. Sick to the back teeth of them as I am, I intend to survive writing this column without mentioning the unmentionables.

And so... What else to witter about then if not, um, them? Well, so much has happened in the most newsy of terrible news weeks. Post Hillsborough and the jaw-dropping revelations that so many could have survived and so many in power lied it's difficult to believe that we live in, and have lived through, a time when such abuses take place.

It makes you question everything. Power corrupts, for sure, but where is conscience in this? Where is common decency? Why is the instinct for self-preservation so strong? And, to use the cliche, how do they sleep at night? Liverpool has been apologised to many times following the revelations in the report. But sorry? Just not enough.

Yet life goes on. And it slinks from that horror to, um, those horrors. But no, I'm not going to talk about them, or the daily hoo-hah, that's continued. I'm not going to mention the zillion pictures of them dressed and the cigarette-toting pictures of them undressed. Nope. I will not.

And so September, limps on, in the shadow of... them.

We lose three generations of one family in a fire. In the most devastating of losses, a grandmother, her daughter and her grand-daughter, died in a house fire in Cwmbran. That baby had battled for life for six months after being born prematurely.

Kimberley had proved herself to be a fighter. Her mum had shown herself to be devoted. Her grandmother had demonstrated the steely backbone needed to bring a family through the trauma of a birth of premature twins, the sad loss of one and the jubilant return home of another.

Who would ever have imagined, that all the love, all the care, all the hope and potential, could have been smothered in a cruel fire in the place where you are meant to feel the most safe? Home. An arson attack. Surely cowardice exemplified.

And, on the same day, the shooting of two police officers. Unarmed, which is how we prefer our bobbies on the beat in this country.

They were attacked and died during their normal day of work.

Staggering. Sickening.

Yet not so sick that this event hasn't enticed the internet trolls to slink from beneath their rocks and post vile messages about the deaths. When I read stuff like this I really do wonder into what kind of world I've brought my children. And it worries me. How do I keep them safe? Or, more importantly, how do I empower them so that they are able to keep themselves safe? Son has just come home from school with a letter entitled 'S.A.F.E'. It's an acronym code, which I had to read out and he had to sign up to in order to use the internet at school and at home. All very worthy, very important and rather unsettling. He is, after all, only four. His signature was a triumph.

Daughter is iPad-savvy too, despite not yet signing up to a safe usage pledge. Son uses it to play chess and a game called DoddleJump. Daughter uses it mostly to look at the family photos. There's some innate gender difference there I think but I'm not really sure what to make of it.

It is fascinating how, without being able to read instructions, she can move through the technology instinctively. A survey out this week revealed that most teens think they know more about the internet than their parents. That makes it all the harder to try and keep children safe in a virtual world which many parents don't really understand.

Parents are, this week, busy trying to work out which kind of e-mailer they are thanks to a survey by Glasgow University researchers.

They've matched e-mailing behaviour to 15 different types of bird. The idea is that it persuades users to be more efficient and less inadvertently rude.

Dr Renaud of the university, said you should think before you click. (Reminds me of the 'clink, clunk, click, every trip' public service broadcasts brought in when wearing a seatbelt became compulsory. Yes, I really am that old.) I've read through the 15 types and I'm not an Echolalia Mockingbird who is described as a serial forwarder, sending chain e-mails and online petitions. Nor am I a Night Owl who sends e-mails at midnight. I do have a touch of the Hoarding Magpie about me (someone who keeps hundreds of e-mails in the in-box) mind, so be careful. If you sent me something a while back I've inevitably still got it. Somewhere...

I wonder if Nick Clegg, who's incurred the wrath of the twiteratti by apologising for breaking his pre-election pledge to block any rise in university tuition fees, knows what he is. A back-covering Emu perhaps? You see, Clegg was sort of saying, sorry, you're upset or sorry we made the pledge rather than he's sorry about the policy.

And so with all this news going on, why are we really bothered about those? It's just titillation. (Sorry!) @GouldThomas

When I read stuff like this I really do wonder into what kind of world I've brought my children. And it worries me. How do I keep them safe? Or, more importantly, how do I empower them so that they are able to keep themselves safe?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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