STUDENTS across the region learnt about the dangers of cyber-bullying and online predators as part of Safer Internet Day.

Held each February, Safer Internet Day aims to promote safer use of online technology.

Its message is particularly poignant in Darlington, the hometown of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall, who was murdered in 2009 by a man she met online.

Events marking Safer Internet Day were held at schools across the region, including Darlington School of Mathematics and Science (DSMS) and Laurel Avenue Community Primary, in Durham.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, cabinet member for children and young people on Darlington Borough Council, spoke to a group of year seven students at DSMS about internet safety.

She said they were all aware of the Ashleigh Hall tragedy and were helping to spread the internet safety message to younger students.

Coun Hughes heard about some of the work students had done on the subject.

A recent study of Darlington students highlighted cyber-bullying as a concern held by many young people.

Coun Hughes, who chairs the town’s children and young people collective, said: “The internet represents a fantastic environment in which to learn, discover, communicate and have fun. But there are risks as well as great opportunities.

“As the mother of a 16 year old and a 14 year old, I know how difficult it can be to balance this important message.

“It is important that we remember Ashleigh, because her family has to believe that what happened to her is not forgotten by the community.”

Insafe, which runs Safer Internet Day, encourages parents and guardians to talk to children and ask to see what they are doing online.

Activities at Laurel Avenue included a whole-school assembly on the theme of ‘let’s create a better internet together’.

Pupils also wrote essays on their perfect online world, designed e-safety posters and took part in role play sessions and quizzes.

Headteacher Gaynor Davison said: “We encourage all pupils and parents to think carefully about keeping safe and develop an understanding of navigating the online world adventurously, but safely.”

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