12 Nov 2014

12 November 2014

Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said:

“The internet is a tremendous resource for children and young people. Unfortunately, it also presents opportunities for those who seek to exploit and abuse children and young people, as seen on last night’s BBC Spotlight programme.

“It is important to recognise that the young people involved were unaware that their pictures were being used in this way.

“Following approaches from concerned schools and others, I took action on learning about the content of the programme. Prior to broadcast I raised concerns with the BBC, Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI to make sure that the reporting of this story didn’t put the young people involved at further risk.

“Raising awareness of such risks is essential, so that Government and regulatory bodies can support schools, parents and carers to educate children and young people.

“This will support them to stay safe and be protected when using mobile phones and the internet through, for example, the effective use of privacy settings. 

“To this end I call on government to bring forward the E-Safety Strategy as a matter of urgency.

“I would urge children and young people who are worried or have been affected by any of the issues raised in the Spotlight programme to speak to a teacher, parent or a trusted adult. They can also call Childline on 0800 1111.

“Children have a right to be protected wherever they are - this includes the internet – and we must all do what we can to ensure they are protected.”

Notes to Editors

  • The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was established in 2003 by the Assembly and Parliament to: “safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people”.