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18 November 2013, 07:19 | Updated: 18 November 2013, 17:43
Children aged between 5 and 11 in Portsmouth are being warned about the dangers of internet trolls.
Portsmouth City Council have teamed up with the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board (or PSCB), the Youth Parliament, and the University of Portsmouth to develop their new campaign 'Beware of lurking Trolls!', aimed at raising awareness to children and young people of the dangers they face when online, using social media and mobile phones.
Funded by the PSCB, the campaign is launching at Westover Primary School this coming Monday 18 November to coincide with the start of National Anti-Bullying Week.
This year's theme is Cyber-Bullies, one of the main focuses of Beware of lurking Trolls. The key is to attract children directly, engaging them with something they want to find out about.
The campaign uses a vibrant and funky cartoon style to appeal to children and young people, with a tips leaflet, stickers, posters, and full colour children's book aimed at younger children.
Through the use of bright and colourful artwork, the children's book tells a simple story for 5 to 11 year olds, placing them in familiar online situations, subtly demonstrating the risks, and what to do if they find themselves in these situations.
The campaign and book features four Troll characters, each one representing a different area of online danger or threat:
Tormentor - the cyber bully is the main campaign mascot, representing online cyber bullying and harassment..
Melware - the gluttonous information stealer represents how easy it is for personal information and pictures to be stolen and misused online.
Spirus - the infecting virus represents the dangers of fraud and dodgy downloads.
Pretendor - the false faced fraudster represents the dangers of grooming, and speaking to strangers online..
Copies of the children's book are being sent out to all primary schools and libraries in the city.
Every child in year 4 will be given a free copy, and multiple copies will be available in school libraries for other year groups.
This is further backed up by travelling roadshow assemblies which will be visiting Primary Schools throughout the city thanks to Public Health Portsmouth.
They'll be engaging with children through assemblies and workshops to talk about online dangers and how to stay safe.
Tormentor the Troll himself may even pop along to test how e-safety savvy they are!
The University of Portsmouth will be supporting the campaign through their 'UP for It' club. This is a free membership club that engages with 11-16 year olds in the local area.
Joe Walters, one of the University’s Education liaison and Outreach officers said:
“We work extensively with local secondary schools helping to raise aspirations and help inform young people about higher education. The University feels it is extremely important that these young people we work with are aware of the issues regarding welfare and safety online, ensuring they can safely experience the huge educational benefits the internet can bring”
Councillor Rob Wood, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Education said:
“The internet is a fantastic way for children to learn and have fun. Most children are more adept at using the internet, tablets and apps than us adults, but along with this skill comes massive risk, as in their excitement to meet new people, add friends and share photos, they're unaware of the dangers they may be opening themselves up to."
"As adults we understand the many potential risks such as cyber-bullying, harmful content, and online predators, but how do you explain these dangers to a seven year old child? We've tackled that exact question head on."
“I'm thrilled we're dealing with this issue in such a big and vibrant way, we need to communicate with our young people directly."
"Our campaign speaks to young children in a very simple and fun way through the innovative use of a children's book. Through the characters in the story we show them how to be careful online, when using social media, and what to do if they recognise themselves in these situations."
"We hope other authorities and organisations will see the important work we're doing here, and will join up with us to spread the campaign. Protecting young people online is an absolute priority for us".
Last year the Council and PSCB held a conference for delegates from all Portsmouth schools, who pledged to spread online safety messages amongst parents and fellow teachers.
Libraries Manager, and steering group member Lindy Elliot said:
"Cyber-bullying has seen a massive increase in the past few years, people don't often consider the long term effects that online and digital bullying can have, they don't even consider the damage they can do by embarrassing or tormenting someone publically. It's a huge problem that needs to be addressed."
"To have our own book in all Portsmouth schools and libraries is a fantastic way to get our message across, and we're seeing fantastic reactions from the children who have engaged with the story so far. As Libraries Manager I'm so proud that we’re using this medium to reach out to childen, empowering them to stay safe and enjoy all that the internet has to offer."
There's an iPad and copies of the 'Beware of lurking Trolls' book up for grabs by liking our official Facebook page and entering our competition at www.facebook.com/lurkingtrolls
To further information, and to download your own digital copy of the childrens book, poster, or top Trollbusting tips leaflet simply visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk and search for 'Trolls'.