One in four children has put themselves in potential danger by secretly meeting strangers they have contacted online, a disturbing UK Government report shows.
Of those, 69 per cent took a child friend along, risking their safety as well, and 25 per cent went alone. Only six per cent took an adult.
The figure, from an official survey of 6,000 children aged between 11 and 16, is a three-fold increase on a similar study carried out two years ago.
A spokeswoman for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre warned youngsters not to meet people they contacted in chatrooms and networking sites.
She added: "People lie in the real world – they do in the virtual world too.
"The figures suggest that children are aware to a degree that there could be some danger in meeting someone offline that they first met online.
"But, by taking a friend along with them, they are potentially putting another child at risk if the person they are meeting is a predatory paedophile."
In its first year, CEOP has received more than 1,400 reports from children saying they have been groomed online.
Of those, two out of three said it happened in chatrooms or on instant messaging.
Social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo were another area of major concern.
CEOP has rescued 76 children from sex abuse and arrested 83 offenders.
John Carr, of the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety, said the findings were "worrying and alarming".
He added: "Every time a child goes to meet someone in real life that they have met online, they take a huge risk."
Last Mod: 31 Ağustos 2007, 18:45