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Government 'Must Protect Children Online' In North Yorkshire

Government 'Must Protect Children Online' In North Yorkshire

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 5:55pm 6th September 2019.

The Government must act to protect children from threats on the internet, safeguarding experts have said.

North Yorkshire County Council’s young people scrutiny committee heard calls for “Draconian” measures to tackle a “terrifying” array of risks which youngsters were being confronted with on an everyday basis.

Professor Maggie Atkinson, a former Children’s Commissioner for England and the county’s chair for overseeing children’s safeguarding, outlined a range of dangers that young people “in the post-Facebook generation” are facing.

She said children were now living in a “post it and you can’t be traced landscape”.

Prof Atkinson told the meeting:

“The child who says ‘I’m not going to tell you what I’ve been looking at’ is actually hiding something, whether it’s joining in a cyber-bullying attack on a classmate, whether it’s being bullied or being approached by shady, questionable people, whether it’s being radicalised by extreme right wing or Muslim sharia. The furtiveness is an alarm bell for parents.”

The authority’s director of children’s services Stuart Carlton said authorities were now facing “a constant battle” to protect children from offenders.

He said:

“I would like to see highly regulated internet space for children. I think it should be far more protective of children than it currently is. It is completely unregulated.

The dark web is a frightening place and it is really to get on it. A quick Google search will tell you how to get dark web.

Children can get into and onto too much. We believe they can rationalise and think through consequences and make choices – they can’t. They are children. Even adolescents are children.”

Councillors said they were alarmed to hear of the mounting threats facing children and asked what they could do to help.

David Sharp, chief executive of North Yorkshire Youth, a charity dedicated to promoting and encouraging the physical, mental and spiritual development of young people, said councillors should lobby for statutory preventative services through youth work or education.

He said having “low level conversations” with children were effective.

Mr Sharp said:

“It needs to be cohesive targeted system rather than the piecemeal stuff at the moment, that is statutory so it becomes funded properly.

That’s what county councillors should be saying and the leader going to national government, saying sort this mess out because you have screwed it up.”

After the meeting North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said he would look into the issue.

He added:

“Safeguarding for children is an issue that we need to take seriously.”




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