CHILDREN in Bolton are being given lessons on how to stay safe as reports suggest they are subjected to new dangers.
The NSPCC has reported that “new kinds of threats” are emerging particularly with the increasing amount of time children spend in the digital world.
The report — How Safe Are Our Children — says: “One in four 11 and 12-year-olds experience something on a social networking site that bothers them almost daily.”
In Bolton, Markland Hill School enlisted the help of HMP Community and devoted a whole day to teaching children how to keep themselves safe from dangers lurking on the internet, including drugs and alcohol and strangers.
Prison officer Paul McGovern and his team from the Greater Manchester Prison Team — including two dogs — took the lessons.
Youngsters were invited to take part in games and contribute to discussions while being given facts and figures about why it was important to tackle bullying.
They were also taught not to speak to strangers and where to seek help and also found out that there were not as savvy as they thought when it came to stranger danger as all of them took sweets from the team, with Mr McGovern jokingly suggesting they were laxatives to remind pupils that “actions have consequences”.
Children heard about the devastating effect of bullying which has claimed the lives of 146 children.
The dangers of social networking sites were also outlined and how easy it was for a stranger to contact them.
The NSPCC report found that 29 per cent of nine-to-16-year-olds have had contact online with someone they have not met face-to-face and four per cent have gone to meet someone they first met online.
And the young people were warned of the trouble they could get into, including being arrested, if they are 10 years old and over, for making a malicious comment about someone online.
The dangers of drugs were also outlined and teachers, wearing special goggles, highlighted the effects of intoxication.
Mr McGovern said: “We have a waiting list for schools wanting us to come in. We want to make this day memorable for the children and take on the message of being able to talk to their teacher.
“We run the sessions on a serious then fun basis, so we tell the children something serious which is important and then introduce something fun.”
Teacher Debbie Shore said: “Everyone had a great day and felt that the information was appropriate, necessary and delivered in an age-appropriate way that benefited all the children.
“We don’t want to scare children but they do need to know the dangers.
“We have had follow-up discussions because children wanted to know more — and some children said the realised there were not as streetwise as they thought they were. It has given them the confidence to talk about these issues.”
Rabia Ahmed, aged eight, said: “I liked the different dogs and playing the games to help teach us about consequences.”