TV presenter and ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen adds voice to calls for Canadian-style laws on cyberbullying
Television presenter and philanthropist Esther Rantzen has called for the government to crack down on cyberbullying by bringing in Canadian-style laws.
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.
You may also want to watch:
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.
- 1 Camden's Levertons to arrange the funeral of Prince Philip on April 17
- 2 Lockdown easing April 12 live updates: North London shops and pubs reopen
- 3 Royal Free ITU nurse who swapped the Caribbean for a Covid ward
- 4 'It's a godsend': Hampstead pubs and shops back serving the community
- 5 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Wait for second verdict could last 'until Easter'
- 6 Hampstead, Highgate and Primrose Hill beer gardens reopening on April 12
- 7 Primrose Hill to close at night this weekend after antisocial behaviour
- 8 Locals celebrate as the Carlton Tavern finally re-opens
- 9 The questions council 'must answer' after spending £23m on £10m office
- 10 Hampstead to trial unobtrusive electric vehicle charging points
“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.