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[FYI] Safe Use of the Internet Action Plan


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This report outlines the findings of a year long research study 
commissioned by the European Commission (DGXIII), in preparation for 
the Safe Use of the Internet Action Plan (See http://www.echo.lu/iap 
for full details.). The work was carried out by the non-profit 
organisation Childnet International (see www.childnet-int.org) and 
Public Relations company Fleishman Hillard (See www.fleishman.com), 
henceforth called the programme team.  

The objective of the work was to assess the key messages which would 
help children stay safe online, and then how best to communicate 
these safety messages effectively to parents, teachers and children 
across Europe.  

The research involved: assessing existing Internet safety awareness 
programmes across Europe (and elsewhere), identifying the key 
messages and styles of communication, developing pilot deliverables 
and testing these in 6 European countries through focus groups and an 
online website questionnaire, and then producing recommendations 
(this report) which will support wider awareness actions in the full 
Safe Use of the Internet Action Plan for 2000 onwards.  

Due to the limited scope of the project, it must be stressed that 
this was not a pilot programme for a full scale Internet safety 
awareness campaign, but rather a preparatory test of particular 
styles of messages, images and deliverables to see what approaches 
work best. Furthermore, the programme team was concerned to assess 
whether a full European-wide awareness campaign would work, and 
whether there were specific issues/concerns in individual countries 
and national variances to take into consideration.  

The testing of the messages and deliverables had two key components: 
asking experts, teachers and children through the www.netaware.org 
website (self-selecting); and getting impressionistic feedback from 
12 focus groups in the 6 European countries. In addition the 
programme team were in constant touch with other organisations and 
initiatives concerned about safety and self- regulation of the 

These included: The Bertelsmann Experts Group, the Association of 
Hotlines in Europe (INHOPE), the European Schoolnet, Disney's 
European Safe Surfing Week, Getnetwise in the USA, the Vienna 
Conference on Combating Child Pornography on the Internet, European 
Research into Consumer Affairs (ERICA) as well as individual 
government's involved in designing awareness initiatives. 
Consultation with these bodies has been crucial and many of the 
findings have been endorsed by these other organisations.  

The programme team believe that the 12 key findings from this report 
and the main recommendations (see below), will help shape the future 
Safe Use of the Internet Action Plan as well as other emerging 
Internet safety awareness campaigns. Because of the expanding use of 
the Internet and the demand for good advice from parents and schools 
in keeping children safe, it is crucial that a wider pan-European 
Internet safety awareness programme is established quickly.  

Key to ensuring the success of this wider campaign is securing cross 
sector support from partners in different countries and ensuring that 
a high profile branded campaign has real investment, and "ownership" 
from industry. With the promise of 50% match funding from the 
European Commission, there is a unique opportunity to deliver a 
fuller awareness programme which will have a real impact on ensuring 
that children are kept safe using the Internet.  

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