EU LAUNCHES ONLINE SAFETY STRATEGY
The European Union has launched a new strategy to improve safety standards for young people using the internet.
The Better Internet for Kids (BIK+) strategy aims to implement a range of measures to “protect children online, develop children’s skills and empower them to safely enjoy and shape their life online.”
The creation of a new Europe-wide standard on age verification, as well as a potential digital wallet for children, are among the policies proposed in the strategy.
Also under the new strategy, the EU will seek to implement an age-appropriate design code for websites and online platforms used by children, similar to the UK’s Children’s Code, as well as a harmonised child helpline number to report cyberbullying.
The EU Commission plans to publish a report monitoring the progress of its strategy every two years.
REPORTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE BETWEEN CHILDREN INCREASE
There has been a sharp rise in the number of calls made to the NSPCC by young people experiencing harmful sexual behaviour by other young people.
The NSPCC received over 2,300 such reports in 2021, an increase of 29% on the previous year.
The increase follows a rise in the number of current and former school pupils speaking out publicly about the abuse they suffered in school.
The NSPCC has called on the government to provide resources to schools to better deliver the sex education curriculum and create an environment of open discussion in schools where pupils feel comfortable sharing their experiences.
“Last year was a watershed moment as an unprecedented number of young people bravely came forward to challenge unacceptable peer-on-peer sexual abuse,” said Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO.
“The government has a golden opportunity to listen to these voices and to shape and change attitudes that can be key in preventing harmful sexual behaviour through its Relationships and Sex Education curriculum.”
MPS CALL FOR GREATER PROTECTION FOR CHILD INFLUENCERS
MPs have called for greater protections to be given to children who are influencers on social media.
Members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee published a report into the status of young influencers in the UK and identified a number of gaps in labour and advertising legislation which leave child influencers vulnerable.
The report suggests young influencers could be at risk of exploitation online and calls for child influencers to be registered as ‘working children’ and protected accordingly.
“The explosion in influencer activity has left the authorities playing catch-up and exposed the impotence of advertising rules and employment protections designed for a time before social media was the all-encompassing behemoth it has become today,” said DCMS Committee chair, Julian Knight.
“It is now up to the Government to reshape the rules to keep pace with the changing digital landscape and ensure proper protections for all.”
GOVT TO INCREASE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
The government has announced a £7 million increase in funding for schools and colleges to improve mental health support for young people.
The additional funding will go towards grants to train a ‘senior mental health lead’ in each school to encourage young people to share their mental health concerns as well as foster connections to NHS mental health services to refer young people for further support where necessary.
Over 8,000 schools had already claimed the £1,200 grants in the six months to March 2022, while the additional funding will help deliver grants to a further 8,000.
Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: “The last two years have been particularly challenging and although children are incredibly resilient, it’s crucial they can access mental health support as early as possible.”
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