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December 4, 2023

Thousands of young people caught watching online child abuse images

  • The Guardian utilised Freedom of Information requests to gather information from police forces across the UK which showed that several thousand children and young people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have been caught watching or sharing child abuse images.
  • In some regions, the majority of individuals identified by the police as engaging with indecent images of children are under 18.
  • Cases vary, with some involving consensual sharing of sexual images among teens, while others feature the viewing of “the most abhorrent material.”
  • A detective chief inspector leading an online child sexual exploitation team, says children are becoming “desensitised” by early exposure to pornography which leads to an increasing interest in shocking material.
  • Rachel Haynes, the senior practitioner of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation who work with perpetrators of online child abuse, have launched a website called Shore for young people worried about their own sexual thoughts and behaviours.
  • For more on this story, visit the Guardian’s website.

Bereaved parents hope the Online Safety Bill will go the distance to protect future children from harm

  • Liam Walsh is advocating for complete transparency regarding his 13-year-old daughter Maia’s online data in the period leading up to her suicide.
  • Mr. Walsh discovered two distressing videos romanticising self-harm and suicide in his daughter’s TikTok likes history. He expressed, “My quest is to understand what led my child to engage in such destructive and dangerous behaviour. Maia is missing her life. Perhaps there is nothing to uncover, but I deserve the opportunity to find out.”
  • Ofcom’s Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawe said the regulator “cannot waste a moment” on setting out how they protect children online. Ofcom will collaborate with social media platforms to ensure the removal of harmful content such as child sexual abuse, grooming, and violent material.
  • When asked for a comment, TikTok cited their community guidelines which state they do not allow showing, promoting, or sharing plans for suicide or self-harm, they say any content violating these terms will be removed.
  • For more, please visit The Independent website.

Jeremy Hunt’s free childcare pledge ‘doomed to fail’ as thousands of nurseries close amid staffing crisis

  • In the past year, 3,320 out of the 62,300 nurseries and childminders catering to children under 5 in England have closed, resulting in a reduction of 17,800 available childcare spots, according to newly released Ofsted figures.
  • The decline in childcare facilities poses a challenge to the government’s plan to provide 30 hours of free childcare for under-fives by 2025, as experts emphasise the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff.
  • Despite the government’s recent announcement of an additional £400m in funding for childcare places, providers express ongoing concerns about the shortage of appropriately trained staff to fill these roles.
  • A spokesperson from the Department for Education said that they are “rolling out the single biggest investment in childcare in England’s history, and are confident in the strength of our childcare market to deliver 30 free hours of childcare for working parents from nine-months-old up to when they start school”.
  • Recognising the need for further action, the spokesperson referenced the launch of “a new national recruitment campaign in the new year, and an accelerated apprenticeship route into the sector to help recruit new staff.”
  • For more, please visit the Independent website.

Young people from across NI gather at Stormont for Youth Assembly

  • Ninety young people from across Northern Ireland gathered at Stormont for the inaugural sitting of the second Northern Ireland Youth Assembly.
  • Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey said that they had “been a great example of the importance of giving young people their say and made a number of important recommendations on issues such as climate change, mental health and the rights of children and young people.”
  • “As always, I am inspired by the knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication displayed by our local young people”, Mr. Maskey concluded.
  • During their two-year term, Youth Assembly members will meet regularly in Parliament Buildings, in meetings chaired by the Assembly Speaker.
  • For more, please visit The Irish News website.