‘More needs to be done to protect our children from Cyberbullying’ – Rogers

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Friday, February 14th, 2014
Politics

SDLP Education Spokesperson Seán Rogers MLA has said that much more needs to be done to protect children and young people in Northern Ireland from the dangers of the internet, including cyberbullying.

SDLP MLA Sean Rogers

Speaking during a debate in the Assembly on the Safer Internet Day Campaign, Rogers said, “The internet is an incredible tool and has many positive benefits which have transformed our society.

“We must however do all that is necessary to protect children from the inherent dangers of the internet. Children often have more knowledge about electronic devices than their parents and need to be protected as a result.

“One of the most worrying dangers that young people are subjected to is the intimidation, threats or bullying of other users. Cyberbullying is a serious issue in Northern Ireland for children and young people,” he insisted.

“According to research conducted by the Department of Education in 2011, 15.5% of Primary 6 and 17.0% of Year 9 pupils indicated that they had experienced cyber-bullying in the past couple of months. Even more worrying- this research is 3 years old, the internet has got more sophisticated in the intervening time and so has cyber bullying .

“This can have serious detrimental effects on victims, damaging their sense of worth and their self-esteem. In some cases, it has been found to have contributed to children and young people self-harming or taking their own lives.

“It must be acknowledged that in recent years this phenomenon has been taken increasingly seriously by schools and statutory agencies with positive outcomes. However, much work is still left to do in this area.

“It is imperative that schools pursue a robust programme of education for young people around safe internet use. The knowledge gap between children and their parents is stark and must be addressed to ensure that our young people are safe online. Parents will play a key role and must actively keep on top of new technologies.

Rogers added, “The era of the internet has lots of positive consequences but we must have built-in protections for children and young people.”


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