ST MIRREN star Anton Ferdinand is backing a campaign to get online safety taught in schools.

The former West Ham United player, who has been abused online himself, is sponsoring his former primary school, as well as his son's primary school.

It will allow every pupil in his son's school, as well as every child in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 at Camelot Primary, in Peckham, London, to receive online safety education for a year.

The initiative by campaign group eAWARE comes after the NSPCC children's charity launched its Wild West Web project, which calls on the UK Government to regulate social networks and make the internet safer for children.

The charity's survey of nearly 40,000 children aged seven to 16 found that an average of one child per primary school class has been sent or shown a naked or semi-naked image online from an adult.

It further revealed that one in 50 schoolchildren surveyed sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.

Former England Under-21 ace Anton, who joined St Mirren as a free agent last month after parting company with Southend, said: "Having been on the receiving end of months of online abuse, I know that, even for someone who is thick-skinned and in the public eye, just how incredibly difficult it is to take.

"As a father-of-two, I wanted to play a part in helping to better protect our future generations from the kind of vile abuse I experienced."

Joe Brewer, content and communications manager for eAWARE, added: "The importance of teaching digital safety in the classroom has never been more apparent.

"Whilst initiatives such as the NSPCC's Wild West Web campaign and the government's announcement of a national unit specialising in providing local safeguarding agencies with expertise, advice and practical support to help stop child sexual exploitation are fantastic, education also plays a fundamental part in keeping young people safe online.

"We must see a shift in the national curriculum to include online safety as a core subject, helping ensure all children are given the skills they need to be safe online."