CHILDREN’S charities and website Facebook have combined to improve safety online following the death of a teenager from the region.

Last month, Ashleigh Hall, 17, was killed after apparently going to meet a man she had befriended on the social networking site.

The Darlington student’s death led to The Northern Echo’s Safety Net campaign – a call for internet safety lessons to be included on the national curriculum.

As part of National Antibullying Week, Facebook has warned children of the dangers of befriending strangers online.

Facebook users are advised to only accept messages from people they know, and to keep personal information private, block people who are abusive and report threatening behaviour to the site.

Richard Allan, from Facebook, said: “Bullying is as old as the hills, but as more and more people are online, there is a small minority of people determined to make others’ lives a misery.

“In the past they may have been bullies in the playground, but now some have become online nuisances.

“We are pretty determined, and if we find out people have been bullying online, we will warn them and ban them from the site if need be.”

An NSPCC spokesman said that schools and parents needed to watch for the threats posed to children using the internet.

He said: “Cyber bullying is one of the worst, most menacing forms of bullying because it can be so hard to escape.

It can follow children around 24 hours a day, targeting them whenever they are online or on their mobile phone, even at home.”

Children or parents worried about online bullying can call Childline on 0800-1111.