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Online survey ‘shocking’

A shocking number of London kids are making themselves easy targets for sexual predators who cruise the Internet, an informal survey has found.

The alarming figures suggest one in four children 11 to 14 have met face-to-face with strangers introduced only online.

Despite years of warnings about stranger-danger, more than half of them have put identifying information such as phone numbers and addresses on public-access websites, youth workers say.

“We were shocked,” said Shannon Liddington, outreach worker with RISE for Youth, a project that aims to reduce sexual exploitation.

“The children we talk to are absolutely putting themselves at risk. The level of naivete they have is incredible.

“Every one of these kids knows that if someone drives up to you at a bus stop and asks for your name and school you don’t give it to them.”

During education seminars, the group has surveyed 600 Grade 6, 7 and 8 London pupils and found 60 per cent have put personal, identifying information on websites such as MySpace and Facebook.

Twenty per cent of the children also admitted posting pictures of themselves online .

But most disturbing is the fact 25 per cent have met people they only knew online.

“That really did blow us away,” said project co-ordinator Jessie Rodger. “It is absolutely the most dangerous thing a kid can do.” Read more.

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