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Kids as young as FIVE need lessons in online safety - NSPCC

And teens reckon hardcore web pr0n is 'mundane'

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Kids as young as five should be taught how to stay safe online, with tips and advice coming from their mates as well as teachers, a UK children's charity has said.

The NSPCC said that online abuse was one of the major child protection issues today, as kids see more and more porn and are encouraged or coerced to make their own explicit photos or films.

The charity's phone-in helpline ChildLine said that compared to just one year ago, a whopping 70 per cent more boys had called in about seeing porn online, some of them as young as 11 years old. Sexting and hardcore pornography is now so normal for many teenagers that focus groups described it as "mundane". According to some of the charity's research, watching porn online is so easy that it was considered a bit passé by kids and having "homemade" pictures and videos was the only way to win respect.

Altogether, ChildLine carried out 3,745 counselling sessions about internet issues, including 250 contacts with children who said they were being "groomed".

"Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on a scale never before seen," Claire Lilley, the NSPCC's safer technology chief, said. "It's now clear that we are facing an e-safety timebomb with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time."

ChildLine is sending workers to every primary school in Britain to talk about the issues affecting each age group, but a recent study by the charity found that children also want peer lessons so they can share advice with other kids their own age.

The charity said that while many schools already have e-safety lessons or space for others to help kids stay safe online, it wanted to see some help in every UK school. It also called for internet service providers to "stick to their commitment" to give parents clear and easy blocks and filters for the net at home. ®

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