Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

AM leads debate on safety of children online

Published

on

am leads debateREBECCA EVANS AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has led a debate at the National Assembly for Wales on the safety of children online.

Mrs Evans brought forward the debate at the Senedd to explore the dangers facing children online following a series of tragic and high profile cases tied to internet use, and the publication of several pieces of research highlighting the challenges facing children online.

Mrs Evans told the Assembly that although the role of internet service providers, search engines and social networks in protecting children lay beyond the scope of the Assembly, “to shrug our shoulders and say that the challenges are too big, or that it is just not our job would absolve us from our responsibility to use every opportunity that we do have in Wales to equip children, parents, teachers, youth workers and so on with resilience, knowledge and support, so that they are best able to deal with the challenges faced by children online day in, day out.”

Mrs Evans explored peer-to-peer issues such as bullying and exploitation, as well as stranger dangers including online grooming, and easy access to explicit adult material which may be extreme or violent in its content.

Mrs Evans said: “Most children now have a phone with internet access and nine out of 10 of them say that there are no parental restrictions on its use. For most children, their virtual lives are synonymous with their real lives, and what happens online affects them offline.”

Tackling cyberbullying

After the recent publication of a Funky Dragon survey which found that over a third of 11 to 17-year-olds in Wales who had been bullied had suffered from cyberbullying, Mrs Evans asked the Welsh Government how it was addressing the unique challenges posed by bullying online.

Mrs Evans said: “Online bullying is relentless; it is 24/7 and it follows bullied children everywhere that they go. They carry it around on the phone in their pocket.”

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler has also echoed these concerns. Responding to the debate, the Deputy Minister announced that “As part of the 2013 Anti–bullying Week, from 18 to 22 November, the Welsh Government will be launching a campaign to raise awareness of cyberbullying and to highlight where to go for help.”

A force for good too

Mrs Evans ended her contribution by being clear that she “did not want to give the impression that cyberspace is a wholly dangerous and nightmarish place to be avoided at all costs.”

“In fact,” she said, “it is quite the opposite. Access to the internet can be incredibly enriching. Children can talk to other children thousands of miles away and develop global citizenship and a sense of responsibility to other people on the other side of the planet. They can have fun and stay in touch with friends, and it is a wonderful learning environment and research tool, a gateway to almost limitless knowledge, and a forum to develop skills and ideas.

“By educating children and those who protect and support them about the safe use of the internet, including recognising danger and the importance of privacy settings and content blocks, for example, we can make the internet a much safer place for them. By helping children to put what they see and experience online into context offline we can build their resilience. There is a huge amount of very good work already taking place in Wales by parents, schools, the third sector, police and others, and I would ask the Government to explore how we could bring all of this good practice together to make the internet a safer place for children.”

Mrs Evans looks forward to meeting with the Deputy Minister in order to further discuss actions to ensure the safety of children online.

Let’s talk about sexts

Modern trends such as sexting – the act of sending sexually explicit messages, photographs, or video content, primarily between mobile phones – are causing children’s charities in Wales concern.

Speaking in the debate, Mrs Evans said: “NSPCC Cymru and ChildLine have warned that many children are frequently taking big risks when making and sending sexual texts, photos and videos of themselves. They found that sexting is considered a normal, everyday activity among young people as young as 13 years old, with around a quarter of them having made photographs or videos to send on to others. Barnardo’s Cymru has also identified what it calls peer-based exploitation as an increasing trend.”

Mrs Evans warned that once the image has been sent on, it is out of the young person’s control and told the Assembly that the Internet Watch Foundation has reported that images are regularly shared around school, uploaded to social networks and sometimes find their way on to paedophile websites. In just 40 hours, an IWF analyst found more than 12,000 images of teens that were originally sent as texts on 70 paedophile websites.

Mrs Evans said that after seeing calls about sexting rise by 28% last year, ChildLine has developed a “fantastic app” called Zipit, which provides witty and safe comebacks that children and young people can use to reply when faced with requests for explicit photos. She asked the Deputy Minister for Skills, Ken Skates AM, to consider how the Welsh Government could promote the app and similar resources.

Responding to the debate, the Deputy Minister asked Mrs Evans to meet with him and his officials to discuss in further detail how sexting can best be addressed.

Parents have a big role to play

Mrs Evans told the Assembly that parents were “probably the most important defence that children have against the darkest elements of the internet,” but added that they sometimes needed support to be able to fulfil that role.

She referred to research by web safety organisation Knowthenet which suggested that some parents may be failing to protect their children in cyberspace, simply because they do not understand the net speak that peppers online exchanges.

Mrs Evans said: “For many parents, their understanding of everyday slang starts and ends with ‘LOL’, but they can be sure that their children’s vocabulary is much wider. A Knowthenet survey of 1,000 parents found that the least understood term was ‘LMIRL’, which means ‘Let’s meet in real life’. Also among the least-known acronyms were ‘ASL’, which means age, sex, location and ‘POS’, parents over shoulder.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Welsh Deputy Minister visits New Farm Shop

Published

on

Pictured : Julie Morgan AM

A new farm and produce shop on the Scolton Manor estate outside Haverfordwest has been visited by a Welsh Government Minister.

Julie Morgan AM – Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care – called at the shop to see the Welsh Government’s Intermediate Care Fund (ICF) in action.

The shop provides work experience, training and supported employment opportunities in retail and customer service for people with learning disabilities, disabilities and autism.

It is an addition to Pembrokeshire County Council’s existing supported employment offer through Norman Industries, the Authority’s sheltered employment factory in Snowdrop Lane, Haverfordwest.

The shop is the result of partnership working involving Workways+ and Experience for Industry – both funded by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government – Norman Industries and the management and staff at the Council-run Scolton Manor attraction.

The shop, which opened just a few weeks ago, will be supplying the public with fresh produce from the walled gardens at Scolton Manor, local meats, produce, tea and coffee.

It also provides a retail outlet for some of the arts, crafts and products made at Norman Industries.

Over the coming months the shop will also be supplying chutneys made by participants and employees at the supported employment café in Milford leisure centre ‘Caffi Man Cwrdd’.

The Deputy Minister was welcomed by County Councillor Tessa Hodgson, the Authority’s Cabinet Member for Social Services.

The farm shop has been partially resourced and staffed through some of the £400,000 ICF money allocated to expand supported employment opportunities regionally.

Continue Reading

News

Haverfordwest: Police promise extra patrols for GCSE results night

Published

on

THERE will be an increased police presence in Haverfordwest tonight, in response to an anticipated influx of young people who will be celebrating their GCSE results.

Parents are being asked to go over their child’s plan for the evening, before they head out. Sergeant Haydon Mathias is overseeing the operation.

He said: “It’s a big day for teenagers, and we understand they want to celebrate after all of their hard work.

“We’ll be there to make sure they do that safely, and without disrupting others.

“This is usually a busy night for us, and historically we have seen crime and anti-social behaviour rise. You’ll notice my team out and about from early this evening to stop that happening. They’ll be seizing alcohol from anyone they suspect is under the age of 18, and dealing with any other issues that arise.

“We’re asking parents to take the reins and discuss plans before your child goes out. Make sure you know where they’re celebrating, who they’re with, and how they’re getting home. It’s useful to make sure your child’s phone is fully charged, in case of an emergency.

“I encourage anyone with concerns to come and speak to an officer or Police Community Support Officer around the town, or contact Dyfed-Powys Police.”

Continue Reading

News

Llangwm Church Donation Box Stolen

Published

on

St Jerome’s Church: Second theft in a year!

 

A DONATION box has been stolen from a village church, the second theft from the historic building in a year.

The donation box at St Jerome’s Church, Llangwm, is believed to have been taken in the last few weeks.

The box is usually kept next to the Talking Tapestry of Langum, a project which tells the story of the village’s origin with the invasion of the Flemish in the 12th century and its later history.

Pamela Hunt of Heritage Llangwm said: “This theft is the second from St. Jerome’s in a year.

“If anyone has seen or knows anything, then please let the police know.

“If they feel unable to do that, but would like to contact us at St Jerome’s Church, then email info@heritagellangwm.org.uk

“We will treat your contact in the strictest confidence.”

Continue Reading
News8 hours ago

Haverfordwest: Police promise extra patrols for GCSE results night

THERE will be an increased police presence in Haverfordwest tonight, in response to an anticipated influx of young people who...

News1 day ago

Woman and partner fled Mount blaze through window

A WOMAN and her partner had to jump out of the window of their flat, to escape the blaze that...

News1 day ago

£1500 worth of nail guns stolen in Haverfordwest

DYFED-POWYS POLICE are appealing for information on a theft that occurred in Haverfordwest, in which three nail guns were stolen....

News1 day ago

Arrest and court for pair accused of Mount flats fire

TWO people were arrested after a fire was started at a block of flats at the Mount Estate, Milford Haven....

News3 days ago

Plans to re-open night club put forward

THE FORMER Chequers nightclub in Penally could be granted a new license if plans are given the go-ahead. Now under...

News3 days ago

Casualty airlifted from Monkstone beach

A casualty was airlifted to hospital after becoming ill on the way to Monkstone beach on Saturday evening, August 17....

News6 days ago

Dale Road: Several have minor injuries after two vehicle accident

EMERGENCY SERVICES are attending a two-vehicle road traffic accident on the B4327 Dale Road. Two fire crews from Haverfordwest as...

News6 days ago

Tenby: Hotel goes into administration as new owner’s business empire collapses

A POPULAR Pembrokeshire hotel has gone into administration. The Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby how faces an uncertain future. It’s parent...

News6 days ago

Woman rescued from Caldey after suspected arm fracture

A WOMAN, suffering a suspected fractured arm after a fall on Caldey, was taken to hospital on Thursday, August 15....

News1 week ago

Pembrokeshire high streets shortlisted for UK awards

TWO Pembrokeshire high streets have been shortlisted to win up to £15,000 in this year’s Great British High Street Awards....

Popular This Week