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AOL UK Sponsors New Childline Web Site

AOL UK is sponsoring a new web site for child assistance organization ChildLine.

The new site for Childline is intended to be the first port of call for children who want information and advice about issues of importance to them.

"We believe the Internet is a vital way of helping even more children and young people get the help and information they need and desperately want," said Valerie Howarth, chief executive of ChildLine.

"Children trust and rely upon ChildLine, so it is essential that we continue to explore new ways of communicating with them."

Lack of funding has meant that only one third of the telephone calls to ChildLine's helpline can be answered at present. To get through, children often have to call several times.

"Our ultimate aim is to answer every call from every child the first time they ring, but we must examine other ways of supporting children too," said Howarth.

On AOL UK's Kids Channel, ChildLine will hold regular chat room sessions in which a ChildLine expert will answer questions on topics that range from family problems to bullying at school. The chat sessions began on Tuesday this week in the "safe surfing" environment of the Kids Channel.

"Our relationship with ChildLine is about sharing similar long-term goals and therefore working to enhance children's online experience within a safe environment," said Camille De Stempel, AOL UK's director of security and network policy.

One of the features of the new site is to allow children to discuss topics among themselves as well as with experts. To get them talking, there will be a "hot topic" posted each month on "Get Talking," ChildLine's message board.