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The website which aims to keep your children safe.

Byline: By Lauren Turner South Wales Echo

The rise of social networking sites like MySpace has led to children being put at risk online, it has been claimed.

Teachers and pupils have now praised a new website which gives young people the chance to report suspicious behaviour on the internet in a bid to thwart paedophiles.

ThinkuKnow.co.uk has a special facility for abuse to be reported online, meaning children can link up with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre directly.

Two pupils from Whitchurch High School, Cardiff, are now on a youth advisory board to give feedback on the ThinkuKnow website.

Their headteacher, Gareth Matthewson, said: 'The internet has tremendous advantages and is a great tool for education, but carries a great deal of danger.

'Any site that can help young people be more aware of these dangers can only be helpful.'

He said there had been an increase in the use of social networking sites, even though these cannot be accessed from the school.

Mr Matthewson said: 'What's become apparent is that people will go onto these sites who are very sophisticated in the way they operate, and are able to convince teenagers they are the same age as them, by the way they talk and things they say.

'Young people need to be aware of this, so they can negotiate these sites in a safe way.'

Jim Gamble, chief executive of CEOP, said the tools for protecting children from paedophiles had to change with technology, and the rising popularity of sites like MySpace and YouTube.

He said: 'Wherever young people are, the sex offender will follow. They used to congregate at youth clubs or swimming pools, but things are different now.

'In the same way as we safeguard our playgrounds, parks and streets, we must secure in whatever way possible the public place that is the internet.'

Young people from 11 to 15 years old are being targeted by the ThinkuKnow campaign.

Ben Turner, 15, a member of the youth panel, said: 'I think if more people were aware of the dangers, they would sit up and take interest in things like this.

'They need to know what problems can arise, and how serious they can be, and this website will make them more aware.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 8, 2006
Words:381
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