Teenagers alerted to internet dangers

JON WELCH Three teenagers from Norfolk have won a national award for a project alerting young people to the dangers they face when using the internet.Twins Ellice and Ria Bush and Kayleigh Lassman, all 16, of Neatherd High School, Dereham, claimed top prize in the National Crimebeat Awards, which encourages young people to get involved with crime reduction and create safer communities.

JON WELCH

Three teenagers from Norfolk have won a national award for a project alerting young people to the dangers they face when using the internet.

Twins Ellice and Ria Bush and Kayleigh Lassman, all 16, of Neatherd High School, Dereham, claimed top prize in the National Crimebeat Awards, which encourages young people to get involved with crime reduction and create safer communities.

The girls had been alarmed by frequent reports media reports about potential problems faced by young people while online.

They were particularly concerned that personal details posted on social networking site Bebo, popular with young people, were found not to be secure.

There were more than 350 children at their school alone with accounts on this site. With the backing of their headteacher, the girl wrote a letter to the parents or guardians of every child making them aware of the site and giving advice.

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The site has since tightened up its security.

They also conducted a survey at their school and were shocked to find out that many young people had given out personal information on the internet and some had even met up with people they had met online.

They decided that there was a real need to change young people's views and make them aware of the dangers of the internet and how to say safe online.

The girls set up a website to raise public awareness of these dangers, and with their headteacher drew up an acceptable use policy for the internet.

Ellice, Ria, and Kayleigh also devised an information pack which was sent out to their school's 10 feeder schools, and a presentation which they took on a tour of local primary and middle schools.

They raised funds to provide pens and stickers promoting internet safety and put together a DVD which is being sent to every primary school in the county.

The girls were finalists in last year's Wham Project, organised by the Norfolk Partners Against Crime Taskforce (Pact) and entered the National Crimebeat Awards, the final of which was held at the Royal National Hotel in London.

They were awarded £1,000 to develop their project.

Ria said the girls were delighted to have won. “It's amazing. We didn't really expect to get this far,” she said.

Teresa Tucker, project manager of Norfolk Pact, said: “They have done brilliantly. I'm so proud of them.”

The twins have since teamed up with their younger sister Neola and Harriet Gilford through Watton Air Cadets, and were finalists in this year's Wham Project with their anti-bullying Just Smile campaign.

The girls' website can be found at www.besecure.org.uk

Norfolk Pact is looking for businesses to sponsor for next year's Wham Project. For further information telephone Teresa Tucker on 07881 813624.

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