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Internet safety campaign provides crumb of comfort for grieving family
A DAY does not go by without thinking of Ashleigh Hall, her grandfather has said.
Speaking on the first anniversary of her death, Mike Hall said his family was still trying to piece their lives together again.
Mr Hall said he hopes that youngsters can learn from Ashleigh’s tragic example and stay safe online.
Seventeen-year-old Ashleigh was murdered exactly one year ago today by convicted sex offender Peter Chapman.
The Darlington College childcare student was befriended by 33-year-old Chapman on Facebook when he posed as a good looking 19- year-old youth.
When Ashleigh went to meet him, Chapman raped and murdered her.
In March, he was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court to a minimum of 35 years behind bars.
“I don’t think of him [Chapman] as anybody,” said Mr Hall. “He is an awful man.
“He was a sex offender, we all know that, he’s got a long list of sex offences.
“Why did he have to take Ashleigh’s life? Why did he have to be a murderer? I can’t understand it – he could have let her go.
“He’s in the best place now and I hope he rots there.”
Mr Hall said that although the family were trying to get back into old routines, they were still finding it difficult to come to terms with Ashleigh’s death.
He added: “As you can imagine, the past 12 months have been really rough.
“It’s getting used to the idea. Sometimes it seems as if it just happened yesterday – it’s all the little things that remind you of her.
“We’re gradually starting to get our lives together, but it’s impossible because Ashleigh was such a part of it.”
The circumstances of Ashleigh’s death led to The Northern Echo launching its Safety Net campaign, which worked to raise awareness of internet safety and make it a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
The campaign led to all over-fives being taught online safety in school and many websites, including Facebook, installing a Panic Button that linked youngsters to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Mr Hall said: “We hope to keep Ashleigh’s memory going one way or another.
“The Northern Echo has done the Safety Net campaign and I hope Ashleigh’s name is always associated with that, and let’s hope we can get this safety message through to children all the time.
Ashleigh DVDs help keep children safe
A LASTING legacy to Ashleigh Hall is helping children across her hometown to learn about internet safety.
Following Ashleigh’s tragic death last year, an e-safety pack was produced by Darlington Borough Council.
An “E-safety for All” team is working with teachers and pupils in Darlington’s schools to make best use of new technologies.
A major part of the team’s role is to teach young people how to use computers and mobile phones safely and responsibly.
A DVD, called Choices – A Click Too Far was also produced.
It included a warning message about meeting strangers from social networking sites.
The DVD includes lesson plans, videos and notes for school assemblies aimed at pupils from four to 18-yearsold.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) agency has also been involved in the project along with teachers and police officers.
John Steel, lead improvement officer for Darlington Borough Council, said: “The Choices film is particularly powerful, not just because it was shot in Darlington by local people, but because the message about not meeting up with strangers is so clear.
“I’ve used the film with many classes. I stop the film in key places and then we discuss how the young people could have behaved differently to change outcomes for themselves.”
Councillor Cyndi Hughes, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Ashleigh’s death was a tragedy for everyone in Darlington.
As a community we needed to make sense of this terrible loss.
“We took action by introducing new and fit for purpose curriculum materials, robust filtering and now the esafety software to protect and prepare young people in Darlington’s schools for many of the challenges they will face in the virtual world.
“Ashleigh has left a lasting legacy."
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