Kiwi kids most at risk from Internet dangers

Kiwi kids take more risks with Net predators than British or American youngsters

New Zealand's teenage girls feel more threatened by Net predators than surfing kids in the UK and America, a new study reveals Thursday.

One quarter of teenage girls in New Zealand feel threatened by Net predators, compared with one in five youths in Britain and the US who claim to have been approached by paedophiles online.

The survey conducted by Auckland University's psychology department found one in three Kiwi girls aged 11 to 19 to have had a face-to-face meeting with someone they met in an Internet chatroom. 32 percent had gone to the meeting alone, with nearly half of them not having informed a parent or adult of their plans.

A forthcoming UK report by the Internet Crime Forum (ICF) purports that "around 20 percent of Internet chatroom-using kids have been approached by paedophiles and other undesirables while online". A comparative US survey Online Victimisation: A Report on the Nation's Youth conducted in June 2000 found approximately one in five youths aged between 10 and 17 had "received an unwanted solicitation or approach (over the Internet) in the last year".

The New Zealand study revealed that 60 percent of children surveyed had given their email address or phone number to someone that they had met online. Only half said that they would tell their parents if they received threats from paedophiles online.

The study questioned 347 females aged between 11 and 19 who had visited the www.nzgirl.co.nz Web site.

Concerns over paedophile activity on the Internet has come to a head in recent months. Last month seven Britons were sentenced for their participation in the world's biggest ever Internet pornography ring dubbed the Wonderland Club. The British government has also announced plans to criminalise the online "grooming" of children.

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