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Bid to make cyberspace safer for young people

A FIGHT between Cardiff schoolgirls posted on YouTube, cyber bullying, college students defaming members of staff online - all are hazards facing the young.

Now a new partnership has been set up in Wales to study how they use the internet and mobile technologies. It aims to develop programmes so children and parents can get to grips with these and the risks they pose.

Wise Kids, a non-profit organisation based in Newport aimed at promoting internet safety, has joined forces with the Welsh-speaking youth organisation Urdd Gobaith Cymru, ChildLine Cymru and BT Wales.

"Many young people aren't aware the profiles they create on social networking sites are available for anyone to view unless they've protected them," says Sangeet Bhullar, executive director of Wise Kids.

"They're also not aware of how to judge website content, what constitutes personal information or how grooming occurs."

A recent NSPCC survey across Britain showed that of 2,053 young people (1,187 boys and 866 girls), 1,036 had "an unwanted experience" online. It is calling for the pre-installation of internet safety software on all new PCs.

Other research revealed that one in three young people who regularly uses the net has received unwanted sexual comments online or by text. Nearly half (46 per cent) gave out personal details.

"We do a lot of work with schools, FE and in the community," said Ms Bhullar. "There's a sense young people aren't getting critical information and that parents are being left behind."

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