Gloucestershire

Facebook steps taken against Forest of Dean school pupils

A primary school in the Forest of Dean is taking steps to remove its pupils from social networking websites.

The school's head said more than 50% of its pupils were accessing such websites, including a six-year-old boy who was found using Facebook.

An "ad hoc" system is in place at St Whites' school, in Cinderford, where teachers report names to the websites requesting accounts to be closed.

Children currently have to be 13 years or older to sign up to Facebook.

'Overstepping the mark'

Head teacher Paul Woodward said: "I am fairly worried because I want to keep the children safe from those who are inappropriately using the network to groom children or show inappropriate materials or use inappropriate photographs.

"If they are on a Facebook account or a social networking site, then somebody has told a lie to get them that account - either a sibling or their parents - and that's not what it is for.

"I may be overstepping the mark but all I am trying to do is advise the parents that they need to be keeping their children safe.

In a statement, Facebook said: "Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services.

"Facebook is in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."

The chair of the Gloucestershire Children's Partnership said he was fully in support of the school's actions.

Paul McClaine said: "If a parent has genuinely taken the decision to put a young children onto Facebook I would question whether the parent has got the right priorities."

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