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Girls say they are losing their freedom

Girls believe they have lost the freedom to do things on their own because parents react to shock headlines by being over-protective. In a survey of 1,000 girls aged between 10 and 18, almost half say they face too many restrictions.

The research also shows that, by concentrating on rare issues like stranger attack, worried parents may be ignoring real threats, such as online contacts or using a mobile phone while out at night.

The research, by Girlguiding UK and backed by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, indicated that fears over letting girls go out at night led to them spending more time on the internet at home. Almost half of the girls said they had seen things online which upset or frightened them. More than one in four had been bullied on the internet and a fifth had considered meeting someone they met online in real life, although a similar number said they had found people who were not who they said they were.

Almost all girls (95 per cent) believed carrying a mobile phone makes them safer, unaware of the risks of displaying valuables. Nearly 80 per cent of girls aged 16 to 18 listen to an iPod while walking alone at night. Girls think they face more restrictions than boys, who are more likely to be involved in violence or a fight.