COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Newspaper gives out paedophile warning

Lexie Williamson & John Plummer

Two leading children's charities and ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi have persuaded a newspaper to distribute a leaflet free of charge warning parents how easy it is for paedophiles to target children through the internet.

The leaflet, featuring the words "This is how easy it is for a paedophile to get into your home", was dropped through 87,000 letterboxes in Oxfordshire, which was chosen because it has a high level of internet use.

The words are accompanied by a picture of a fictional paedophile, created by morphing the faces of two staff at Saatchi & Saatchi.

The charities, NCH and NSPCC, will monitor the success of the campaign before deciding whether to try to negotiate similar deals with other newspapers.

"Child safety on the internet is already a big issue and it's getting bigger," said John Carr, internet adviser at NCH. "We know of 20 children who have been raped after making contact with paedophiles on the internet in the past two years."

The Oxford Star, a weekly free newspaper, agreed to cover the production, printing and distribution costs. The only expense, which the charities split, was £3,000 for artwork.

Besides the warning, the leaflet directs parents to the NSPCC hotline and web site, which contains tips to ensure their children are using the internet safely.

"We had never been able to show an image of a paedophile before because we feared it might lead to someone getting beaten up so this is quite an imaginative solution," said Carr.

NCH and NSPCC have collaborated before on internet safety but this time the idea came from the ad agency. "Saatchi & Saatchi came to us with the idea. They wanted to do something about it and we thought it had a lot of impact," he added.

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