TV presenter and ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen adds voice to calls for Canadian-style laws on cyberbullying

08:00 21 February 2014

Esther Rantzen, founder of ChildLine, supports calls for Canadian-style laws targeting cyberbullying to be brought to the UK. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Esther Rantzen, founder of ChildLine, supports calls for Canadian-style laws targeting cyberbullying to be brought to the UK. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email

Television presenter and philanthropist Esther Rantzen has called for the government to crack down on cyberbullying by bringing in Canadian-style laws.

West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson, 15, was allegedly bullied through social networks and via texts before her death in October 2012West Hampstead schoolgirl Tallulah Wilson, 15, was allegedly bullied through social networks and via texts before her death in October 2012

The ChildLine founder, of Hampstead, said Canada has shown the world that targeted legislation specifically tackling online bullying can be introduced.

The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, due to come into force before the summer, would ban anyone from distributing intimate images, sometimes known as “sexting”, without consent and would give courts the power to remove such photos from the internet.

Courts could also order the confiscation of a device, such as a computer or mobile phone, that has been used to harass another person or distribute intimate images.

West Hampstead teenager Tallulah Wilson, who killed herself in October 2012, was allegedly bullied on social media networks and via texts.

Ms Rantzen, 73, said: “I am deeply concerned by the number of young people who are contacting ChildLine because they are suffering from sexting and cyberbullying.

“I certainly think that Canada is showing that legislation can be put in place, and if it works there, it will work here.

“Certainly this is a new danger for young people, and one from which they need protecting.”

Ms Rantzen is joined in support of Canadian-style laws by Suzie Hayman, trustee of children’s charity FamilyLives and an alumni of Camden School for Girls in Camden Town.

“I would love to see it come in over here,” said Ms Hayman, an agony aunt for Woman magazine. “We have a wonderful playground in cyber space... but like any new frontier it is still a bit wild.”

The call for more targeted legislation in the UK comes as charities launch an international anti-bullying campaign today (Thursday) to force the European Commission to bring in specific laws to combat bullying and cyberbullying across Europe.

The campaign, led by UK charity Beat Bullying and pan-European project Delete Cyberbullying, has won the support of X Factor winners Little Mix and the Walt Disney Company.

But not all are in favour of targeted legislation.

Dan Raisbeck, co-founder of ChildSmile, the only UK charity dedicated to stopping cyberbullying, said the government should instead focus on raising awareness of the impact of cyberbullying amongst young people by integrating the topic into the national curriculum.

He added that there would be a 
danger of criminalising children if specific cyberbullying laws were introduced.

Nigel Harris, acting director of Camden LGBT Forum, who regularly visits Camden’s schools to talk about the impact of homophobic cyberbullying, wants the Metropolitan Police Service to set up a department that deals solely with bullying and cyberbullying claims.

More than 4,500 young people rang ChildLine, the confidential free helpline for children in need, about cyberbullying last year, an 87 per cent rise on the previous year.

Mr Raisbeck said: “[Cyberbullying] is just much quicker and easier because of the advent of smartphones.

“The price of technology is much cheaper and teenagers can now afford to buy smartphones, giving them access to the internet.”

The UK does not currently have any specific legislation covering cyberbullying.


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:47
Pubs and clubs in London could face having to contribute to the costs of policing and cleaning the streets

Venues which stay open past midnight in Camden may find themselves charged a levy to cover the costs of policing and cleaning the night-time economy.

Yesterday, 15:34
Christopher Matt

Detectives are hunting a convicted sex attacker who has disappeared while on licence from jail.

Yesterday, 13:57
Tom Franklin, Camden Green Party

The chairman of Camden’s Green Party branch has denied sitting down in front of a tank on its way to an arms fair.

Yesterday, 16:30
Theo Seddon-Deane, who has cerebral palsy, with mother Catharine Seddon

Theo Seddon-Deane was born at just 26 weeks, weighing less than a bag of potatoes, and needed a ventilator just to keep him breathing.

Yesterday, 12:57
Pauline Cafferkey as she was discharged from the Royal Free in January

A Scottish nurse being treated at the Royal Free Hospital for a late complication of the Ebola virus is in a “serious condition”, the team treating her has said.

Yesterday, 12:57
New Wetherspoon pub opening in Muswell Hill

A controversial Wetherspoon pub is opening next week on Muswell Hill Broadway.

Yesterday, 12:26
Breda Athan helped treat three Ebola patients at the Royal Free

A senior nurse who led on the treatment of three Ebola patients at the Royal Free Hospital has been honoured at the Nursing Times Leaders awards 2015.

Yesterday, 10:47
Dr Tomas Lindahl has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Picture: The Francis Crick Institute

A Highgate scientist has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering research on DNA repair in cells.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Angharad Baa Stool in Rare Breed.

Great British Life is offering a sheepskin footstool worth £199 to a lucky reader

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder