Internet warning after Facebook meeting

PARENTS are praising quick-thinking youth workers after an incident involving a group of teenagers highlighted the importance of internet safety.

Despite rules set by their parents, a group of Portishead youths accepted an 18-year-old stranger as a friend on the social networking site Facebook, because he claimed to be the uncle of someone they knew.

After weeks of talking to them via the internet, the man, believed to be from the Thames Valley area, arrived outside Portishead Youth Centre one evening to meet them all.

An experienced youth worker was told about the stranger and the police were alerted.

After investigation the visit by the young man, who has learning difficulties, was deemed innocent and he returned to his home. However, parents say the incident has highlighted how easy it is for young people to misjudge friendships on the internet.

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One mum, who did not want to be named, said: “This turned out to be quite innocent, but it could so easily have had a more sinister outcome.

“It is worrying that the 18-year-old had managed to track the youngsters down and meet up with them. I was sure my son wouldn’t have put himself in this position, it goes to show how easy it is to get it wrong.”

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Parents are urged to make sure their children do not befriend strangers on the internet or disclose personal details such as where they live.

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