Mid Ulster MLA speaks out on internet safety for children

Mid Ulster MLA Sandra Overend says she hopes to secure all-party support for her amendment to an Assembly motion on internet safety.
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Internet safety

The UUP assembly member will raise her concerns on Tuesday which is Safer Internet Day 2014, saying efforts need to be made at Stormont, as well as at Westminster, to protect children and young people using the internet.

“Ofcom figures from 2013 show that 93% of 5-15 year olds, and almost 100% of teenagers have access to the internet, with the number rising year on year.

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“This makes internet safety a matter for us all,” she said.

“The Prime Minister’s interest in internet safety and his intervention last summer was welcome, and Her Majesty’s Government have a significant role to play in this issue... but there are steps that we can and indeed must take in Northern Ireland.

“That’s why I tabled an amendment to focus on the practical steps that can be taken locally.”

“Having lobbied them extensively, I welcome the Junior Ministers’ commitment to internet safety, including recently endorsing the Safeguarding Board Northern Ireland’s e-safety report, as well as the gapping and mapping exercise undertaken by OFMDFM.

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“However there is still much work to be done; and my amendment calls on OFMDFM to take the lead on this issue, to help bring forward the establishment and development of an e-safety forum and to co-ordinate e-safety responsibilities across all Executive Departments.

“The e-safety forum can act as the starting point for the co-ordination of an effective, joined up cross-departmental, multi-agency strategy. This is a subject where a large number of organisations offer information, but a co-ordinated strategy is vital in avoiding complication and ensuring consistency of message.

“While there have been positive developments at a UK level to better protect children through the work of the industry and UK government, there is a massive local element to this and the need for a local cross-departmental approach to e-safety strategy remains.”