Advertiser letters: Protecting our children online and Victoria Park
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Letters, contributions and comments sent in to the Advertiser this week.
Let’s protect our children
Des Mannion, NSPCC, regional head of service for London and the South East, writes:
Last week the home secretary laid down a much-needed challenge to big tech companies at the NSPCC’s HQ in London.
Sajid Javid demanded change to protect children from online groomers and urged the industry to tackle the vile trade in indecent images.
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And not before time. NSPCC research shows that the equivalent of one child in every primary school classroom surveyed has been sent a naked or semi-naked image from an adult; and one in 50 had sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult. That is appalling, and something no child should have to experience. In the last year alone, police in England and Wales recorded more than 3,000 offences of sending a sexual message to a child, including 144 in London.
But this isn’t inevitable. Those images and messages are sent through social networks and texting apps, which recklessly expose children to content and behaviours completely inappropriate for their age. Technology has developed at such a pace that government, legislation and society have failed to keep up. And one result of that is that social networks have become a gateway to child abuse.
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Conversation and encouragement is not enough. The government must now force social networks to tackle the problem blighting their sites and that means changing the law.
The NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign is calling on Mr Javid and culture secretary Jeremy Wright to create an independent regulator, with the power to investigate and to fine social networks which fall short. Sites must be required to take proactive steps to detect grooming, so that abuse can be disrupted before it escalates.
In the coming months government will publish its White Paper setting out proposals for what social network regulation could look like. The NSPCC will be doing all we can to make sure these laws are fit for purpose, and we’re asking parents, grandparents, millennials, students – everyone – to sign our Wild West Web petition to tell Mr Wright and Mr Javid how important this issue is.
]Social networks must be properly regulated for the sake of children today and for generations to come.
• To sign the #WildWestWeb petition visit nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/wild-west-web
Involve community before renting out Victoria Park
Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney, write:
Our friend and neighbour Alan Thomas is right that we who live on Victoria Park have become used to Tower Hamlets making no effort to involve us before taking decisions about shutting us out of chunks of our park that are rented to private enterprise and protected by paywalls during school holidays.
But our retail and recreational spending in Approach, Roman and Old Ford Roads suggest that this isn’t unique to our Hackney side. Shop keepers and publicans we speak to there say they know nothing about the decisions beforehand, such as replacing Lovebox and Field Day with Points East or Make More on August Bank Holiday, and get just as little and late information as us. So it isn’t just Tower Hamlets ignoring Hackney voters, they also fail to involve those whose livelihoods are affected by this in their own borough.
Tower Hamlets’ keenness for privatising our park does suggest that the current regime in the town hall is is unenthusiastic about transparency.