Meet the Lurking Trolls! This gruesome gang aims to teach children in Portsmouth how to spot and defeat dangers online

A terrifying band of trolls is set to arrive in schools and libraries across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In response to the growing and changing dangers children can face online, the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Partnership, together with its partner agencies who work with children and families across the region, is launching a new regional campaign aimed at teaching 7-11 year olds how to spot and defeat online foes.

The book Peril of the Possessed Pets has been created for schools and libraries and 25,000 free copies are being distributed across the region. A new online home for the trolls has also launched at www.lurkingtrolls.com. On the website children, as well as their parents and carers, can watch troll-tastic cartoons created by Southsea-based animators Rival Animation, listen to narrated troll tales and get to know the trolls through fun fact files about 11 different tricky trolls.

Characters including Tormentor, Instarr and Medior have been created to bring to life important issues like bullying, body image and fake news. Through the trolls, children can learn to identify potential dangers and what to do if they’re worried, upset or confused about something they’ve come across online.

The campaign has been developed jointly by the Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships (LSCPs) in Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton. The lurking trolls materials aim to tackle some challenging topics including exploitation, radicalisation, anxiety and depression, in a way that is age-appropriate and engaging.

Derek Benson, chair of the Portsmouth, Southampton, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safeguarding Children Partnerships, said: “Learning about online safety has never been more important. Over the past year we’ve all seen how being online helps us connect with others and supports learning and development. Unfortunately, the internet can also present risks so it’s vital that children and young people learn about possible dangers and difficulties and how to combat them. It is a big topic which is why safeguarding groups from across the regional have come together to launch the lurking trolls campaign and create an approachable way to discuss challenging issues.”

Schools across the region are being encouraged to use the trolls books, cartoons and accompanying teaching resources to support lessons about online safety in key stage 2. Parents and carers are being urged to explore the website with their children and get talking about online safety at home.

Councillor Suzy Horton, the Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education and Deputy Leader at Portsmouth City Council, said: “The internet should be a fun, safe space for children to explore, engage with friends and learn more about the world around them. Unfortunately, we know that children and young people will sometimes come across things online that are harmful, worrying or confusing. We want to give children the confidence to spot risks or problems online and know how to tackle them – by taking action like speaking to a trusted adult, reporting content and blocking bullies. We hope this campaign will get families talking about online safety and add to the ways in which schools can tackle this incredibly important, and sometimes difficult, topic in an entertaining way.”

You can find out more about the lurking trolls campaign, listen to the tales, watch the cartoons, and access lots of tips and information about online safety at: www.lurkingtrolls.com

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