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Ever tackled a Tormentor? Maybe you’ve been pursued by a Pretendar?

The internet can be a dangerous place for children and young people, with Trolls lurking in every corner. We’ve all tackled one at some point, but online problems like cyber-bullying, grooming and fraud are ever increasing, and young people are especially vulnerable to these situations.

Portsmouth City Council has teamed up with the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board, the Youth Parliament, and the University of Portsmouth to develop our new e-safety campaign ‘Beware of Lurking Trolls!’, aimed at raising awareness to children and young people of the dangers they face when online, using social media or mobile phones.

The campaign uses vibrant and funky artwork to appeal to children and young people, with a tips leaflet, stickers, posters, and full colour children’s book aimed at younger children. Through the use of bright and colourful artwork, the children’s book tells a simple story for five to 11 year olds, placing them in familiar online situations, subtly demonstrating the risks, and what to do if they find themselves in these situations.

Have you ever met an online Troll?

Here are four types of Troll you could, or may have, come into contact with:


These cyber bullies have very small brains, so the only enjoyment they get out of life is by bullying others, and make their lives a misery. If you come across a cyber bully then you can:

  • keep a record of their bullying behaviour
  • block them
  • tell a parent, relative or guardian
  • report them to the site, the Police, and Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP)


These information-guzzling gannets feed on other people’s personal information, and feast on your photos. The more they scoff, the bigger they get. The best way to beat one is to starve it, you can do this by:

  • making sure you set your social media settings and profile to private
  • only accepting your real friends as online friends
  • not posting or sending personal pictures of yourself
  • being careful about the private details you feature on your profiles.


These cyber-spies delight in infecting your computer. They latch onto files, pictures and programs and spread themselves throughout your hard drive, stealing your bank details and account information. They’re fast, invisible and can break your computer. However, they can be beaten if you always:

  • use an anti-virus software
  • are careful what you download, always make sure it is from a reputable source
  • run regular anti-virus checks on your computer, and empty your computers ‘cache’ of cookies and temporary internet files
  • are careful about the sites you access, or the online banking you do when not using your own computer


One of the most dangerous trolls are Pretendars. These false-faced fraudsters may look innocent and friendly, but they aren’t who they say they are. They may try and befriend you online, pay you compliments, offer you gifts, but beware, behind that photograph lurks something much darker. You can protect yourself by:

  • not talking online to people you don’t know in real life
  • not accepting friend requests from strangers
  • locking down your privacy settings on your profiles and accounts
  • telling your parents, relatives, friends and guardians about anyone who contacts you, tries to befriend you, or who is worrying you
  • never revealing your location. Never tag yourself at a place when you’re out and about, this tells them exactly where you are

Copies of the children’s book are being sent out to all primary schools and libraries in the city. Every child in year four will be given a free copy, and multiple copies will be available in school libraries for other year groups.

Check out your local library to borrow a copy, or you can download your own free copy by simply clicking the link below, then store on your computer, tablet, or print out to share with your family and friends.

You can also download below our top tips leaflet to banish those Trolls back under their bridges, or our Trolltacular poster to display on your wall or window.

Be sure to follow the official Beware of lurking Trolls Facebook page.

Further advice and information

  • Net Aware (NSPCC)
  • Think U Know – The website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) offers a wealth of up-to-date, practical information on keeping safe online, including where to go for further help and support. If you are concerned that an adult has made inappropriate contact with your child you can report this directly to CEOP. You can also find help if you think your child is being bullied, or if you have come across something on the internet which you think may be illegal
  • UK Safer Internet Centre
  • Childnet
  • Staying safe online (article)