#SID2016 Today is Safer Internet Day, which helps to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children. However, despite the initiative, the internet is becoming increasingly dangerous for our young people.
It is seriously concerning that 60% of young people have been asked to share a sexual image of themselves online. The phenomenon of sexting and subsequent ‘revenge porn’ is a real problem, and we welcome the Justice Committee’s amendment to the Justice Bill in order to bring Northern Irish law into line with the rest of the UK.
There is a lot of debate on how best to address the issue, with younger people often failing to see the potential consequences of what they consider to be a consensual act. Child protection expert Jim Gamble has argued for the decriminalisation of children who take or share a picture of themselves, with the aim of encouraging them to come forward without fear of retribution. No doubt these arguments will play out in the Assembly tomorrow.
NI21 Leader Basil McCrea MLA intends to extend the debate at the Further Consideration Stage of the bill, in a bid to tackle anonymous trolls online. His proposals will force social media companies to take more responsibility for the safety of their users, remove anonymity from the bullies and see tougher penalties for people causing serious mental and physical harm to other people online.