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The internet is a great way of meeting people and finding out information.

When it comes to the Net, we know much more than our parents. It’s really easy for us to surf the Net, be in a Chat room and text you’re mates on you’re mobile all at the same time, yes we can actually multi-task!

You might think you have met some real cool friends in Chat rooms but how can you be sure who you are talking to? The person may be nice and trustworthy, but then again they might be dangerous! You might think you are in the know about using the Net safely, but make sure you stick to the SMART rules.

SAFE – Staying safe involves being careful and not giving out your name, address, mobile phone no, school name or password to people online.
MEETING someone you have contacted in cyberspace can be dangerous. Only do so with your parent’s/carer’s permission, and then when they can be present.
ACCEPTING e-mails or opening files from people you don’t really know or trust can get you into trouble – they may contain viruses or nasty messages.
RELIABLE – Someone online maybe lying about who they are, and information you find on the Internet may not be reliable.
TELL your parent or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
The main things to remember is to never give out the following information to people you don’t know:

• Age
• Name
• Address
• Mobile/Phone number
• Where you work or the name of your school
• Pictures of yourself
• Bank details

For more info on using the internet and internet safety for young people go to: or
If you do decide to meet up with someone in person you can make it a safer experience by:

• Tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting.
• Have a number in your speed dial for someone who could help you if things go wrong.
• Have a codeword with the person you tell where you are, so that they know if things are not good and can come rescue you!
• Always meet in a public place and somewhere you know!
• Check out and know your times for buses, trains and metro so you can make a sharp exit if need be.
• Make sure you feel able to say “no” to anything and able to say “I want to leave” before you go to meet them, if you’re not able to stand up for yourself you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position.
• Remember that meeting up with people can be fun and great friendships can form, you just have to make sure that you are safe!


You may be interested in two reports theNorthern Rock Foundation has put on their website looking at sexual exploitation in County Durham and Darlington. These reports are the latest in a series of studies looking at sex markets and sexual exploitation as it affects adults and children in different areas of the North East and Cumbria.
The work has interesting insights for those working with children and young people and in the drug and alcohol and homelessness fields. Visit the website: