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Police Warn Parents About Dangers of Blog Sites

Issued: 28 Mar 2007

NORTHERN Constabulary's child protection unit is warning parents about the potential dangers of internet blog sites and in particular those being used by children under 13.

Concerned parents have contacted Police regarding the content of their children's sites, some of which appear to depict youngsters posing with offensive weapons and alcohol.

Bebo and My Space appear to be the most popular sites and youngsters use them to upload pictures, messages and videos.

The sites allow youngsters to send messages and upload information about their likes and dislikes, even their names and the schools they attend.

Although the terms and conditions on sites such as Bebo state that youngsters must be 13 to sign up, there would appear to be no way for the site's owners to verify whether or not children are entering their true age.

Sites such as Bebo also recommend that anyone under 21-years-old should make their site private, not public which is an option during the sign up process. It also states that pornographic or inappropriate material may result in suspension or termination of accounts.

However, this does not appear to stop children as young as 10 being able to sign up to these sites and publicly publish extensive details about themselves.

Police are concerned that such an open display of this type of information coupled with images of children may help individuals, such as paedophiles, "groom," children over the internet.

Detective Inspector Julian Innes, head of the Force's Child Protection Unit, said: "Parents should ensure that their children are at least 13-years-old before they are allowed to sign up to sites such as Bebo and be aware of the site's restrictions. If used properly they should be perfectly harmless."

He added: "One of the issues for Police is the public posting of images and information about children, including the schools they attend.

"There are individuals out there who will use this information with criminal intent and we would urge parents to be vigilant."

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