Speaking today after a briefing from the ISPCC on cybersecurity for children, Sinn Féin’s TD for Carlow Kilkenny said that cyber-safety is a major child protection issue of our time.
“The dangers presented via the internet to children today have advanced significantly through the use of smartphones and what that brings; easier access to predatory behaviour, cyber bullying and inappropriate content for younger children. We also know that technology advances at incredible speed leaving many adults and parents naive or ignorant to what is accessible to their children online.
“The ISPCC are calling on government and policy makers to take heed and direct some much needed attention to this child protection issue. Current legislative and policy provisions need to be modernised.
“I fully support their call for the immediate development of a National Strategy on Children’s Cyber Safety and for this to be made a priority by government. This should include key education measures regarding online behaviour such as: 1. Reform of the legal framework regarding children’s cyber safety and 2. The establishment of an Office of the Digital Safety Commissioner and a regulatory policy framework.
“The ISPCC’s recent research carried out in 2016 showed that perpetrators often groom many young people simultaneously and within a relatively short space of time, with An Garda Síochána reporting that children are being groomed in 3-4 interactions.
“This is terrifying information but valuable evidence that the risks to children online is escalating at a rapid pace and it further substantiates the need for government to tackle this growing issue immediately.”