Online safety campaign for children

Banbury Cake: Keeley Hawes said online safety for children 'is vitally important in a society increasingly influenced by digital media' Keeley Hawes said online safety for children 'is vitally important in a society increasingly influenced by digital media'

A new campaign to help children in the UK stay safe online has been launched today by Unicef and BT.

Right Click: Internet Safety Matters is a partnership between the charity and technology company which will see volunteers go into 600 schools across the UK and hold workshops to educate parents, teachers and children about staying safe on the internet, potentially reaching more than 20,000 people.

Among the topics discussed will be how to protect yourself from cyber-bullies as well as setting up parental controls.

Actress and Unicef ambassador Keeley Hawes told the launch at the BT Tower in London that the conversation between parents and children about internet safety will be easier with such a scheme in action.

She said: "It's great that BT and Unicef have come together to address online safety for children in schools, an issue that is vitally important in a society increasingly influenced by digital media.

"Kids today have constant access to the internet, and in many ways it's expected, and I think this programme will make that conversation about safety online, which can be difficult to have, a much easier one for families."

The launch of the scheme coincides with research released by BT which revealed 52% of parents with school-age children do not feel they have enough support when it comes to talking to children about online safety.

Peter Oliver, commercial director of BT's consumer division, said that providing support was a key aspect to the foundation of the partnership.

He added: "At BT it's really important that we not only provide technical solutions, but we also help parents understand the different context of content online.

"For this reason we are really excited to be working with Unicef. Parents are looking for advice and we are looking at improving awareness and education, so going into schools is great."

The Right Click project will work as an extension of an existing Unicef programme called Rights Respecting Schools, which looks at protecting children and offering support when at school.

Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director of fund-raising at Unicef UK, said, "At Unicef we believe that children across the UK have the right to grow up safely, using technology and the internet for all of its many benefits in a safe and informed way.

"We want to build a legacy here that even once the volunteers have left, this understanding and process continues to take place."

The programme has already been piloted in one primary school before being rolled out officially in June.

Julie Lunnon, a citizenship teacher at Cannon Lane primary school in Harrow, north-west London, said, "It's a great idea to bring schoolchildren, their parents and teachers together, and get them talking to each other about this issue."

Just last week a report showed that adult websites were also not doing enough to verify the age of users accessing pornography, with some as young as 12 having been able to easily bypass safeguards and access explicit video and images.

The latest statistics show that cyber-bullying has also affected one in three children while the average number of devices with internet access per household has doubled in recent years, with these numbers clearing behind some of the thinking in the new partnership.

Hawes said: "Supporting children's rights is an issue I am very passionate about, both as a mother and a supporter of the great work Unicef UK is doing with Rights Respecting Schools. It's fantastic that hundreds of these schools will be involved in this partnership."

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