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Teenage runaway returns after 900 Internet bill row

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A British schoolgirl has been re-united with her parents after running away from home after a row with her parents over a 900 Internet bill. Karen Churcher from County Durham sat at her PC late into the night talking to "friends" she met in online chatrooms after getting Net access as a Christmas present. But the Web-addict's family were naive about the potential financial costs of using the Web, and ended up with a 873.70 bill last Thursday from British "it's good to talk" Telecom. The sixteen-year-old went on the run on Friday morning following a row with her parents over the bill. Prior to returning yesterday, the only contact with her family has been through an e-mail to her cousin which did not reveal her whereabouts. Police and the girl's parents feared she had been staying with someone she met through the Internet. "I just want Karen to know that she can come home and we can sort this out," said Mrs Churcher, a school dinner lady. "The phone bill was high but it is not going to come between us, we will live with it." According to Karen's parents, she seemed so addicted to the Internet that they took to hiding the plug from her under their pillow while they slept. "She has never bothered about boys in the past but I don't know who she may have met through the Internet. There is no way of knowing who she may have met through the Internet, you hear so many worrying tales," said Mrs Churcher, who was trawling the Net in the hope of finding clues to where her daughter may be. "I am an old-fashioned sort of person and I don't know anything about the Internet. But I have taken some quick lessons and I will be speaking to people in chatrooms in an attempt to get a message to Karen." ®

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