Police are reporting that children are pretending to be paedophiles in order to frighten their classmates online.
Police in Devon and Cornwall are investigating claims that nine children were harassed on social networking sites by someone who was originally thought to be an adult. But a witness has claimed that the culprits are children who are pretending to be predatory paedophiles in order to scare classmates.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police told the Guardian: " Information from the public has highlighted a possibility that the offenders could be children aged 10 and over, masquerading as a paedophile."
"The investigations are continuing and at this moment we are looking into every line of inquiry and are not ruling out any possibility. It could be youngsters playing a sick game to try and intimidate friends they have fallen out with."
"This will be treated seriously and we will be contacting the families of the children involved and we will try and help them by involving social services."
The events occurred in Padstow in Cornwall and initially caused a panic among parents.
A spokesman for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre told the newspaper: "We have many incidents of cyber-bullying – where children use the internet as a forum to pursue grievances – but have not heard of this happening before. It sounds like a very extreme and worrying course of action."
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