ISPCC flags importance of cyber safety strategy

Organisation says children’s cyber safety must be a national priority

ISPCC flags importance of cyber safety strategy

In this file photo, a teenager checks his smartphone | Image: Nam Y. Huh / AP/Press Association Images

The ISPCC has told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs of the importance of a cyber safety strategy for children. 

In a presentation before the committee, the ISPCC included the findings of an internal review of cases of children who had been exploited, bullied and subject to harmful material online. The group has now called for immediate action by Government, including a National Cyber Safety Strategy for children.

Grainia Long CEO of the ISPCC said “The ISPCC is increasingly concerned about the extent to which children and young people are exposed to exploitation and harm online. While technology and social media bring many benefits, our work with children and young people has convinced us that as a society we are failing to prepare children to identify risks online, to cope when harm takes place and to empower children and young people to stay safe online. The issues are many and complex; however, we can find solutions to these challenges. Cyber safety is the child protection issue of our time - a comprehensive cyber-safety strategy for children is vital, to bring together the different areas of law reform, education, regulation and awareness that are necessary to allow us to protect our children."

The ISPCC outlined a number of specific recommendations to the Committee today which if adopted, will see children better protected online. These include

  • The development of a National Cyber Safety Strategy for children
  • The establishment of a Digital Safety Commissioner, as recommended by the Law Reform Commission and as recently referred to by Minister for Communications Action and Climate Change, Denis Naughten TD.
  • Change to promote online and digital safety and to provide oversight of “take-down procedures” operated by online service providers such as social media sites.
  • Implement Key Education Measures regarding Online Behaviour
  • Reform of Law and Policy regarding Children’s Cyber Safety

Ms Long concluded “We must do more to ensure children are better protected online. Government, state agencies, NGOs, industry and parents must work together in a coordinated effort to enhance legislation, policy and education."