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Mark Sutton
County Councillor Mark Sutton, pictured, describes Ofsted's overall rating of Staffordshire's children's social services as 'Good' as a "great achievement".

Calls for new laws to protect young people online welcomed in Staffordshire

Calls for New laws and a digital ombudsman to help protect children’s privacy online are being backed by Staffordshire’s Cabinet Lead for Children.

Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People has welcomed todays proposals put forward by Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield. The proposals, outline in the Growing Up Digital report, call for new laws to protect children’s online privacy and data and for a digital ombudsman to be created to uphold their rights.

The report found that Youngsters are being left to fend for themselves on the internet against dangers such as bullying and grooming. The report also highlighted that children were being “left to learn about the internet on their own with parents vainly hoping that they will benefit from its opportunities while avoiding its pitfalls”.

Mark said:

“The internet has given children and young people huge opportunities, but making sure they are safe and protected from risks they might face online or on their phones is vital.

“We’ve been working hard in recent years to make youngsters aware of some of the dangers like cyber-bullying, harassment, child sexual exploitation, grooming and sexting.

“Work with schools, campaigns and a new website at www.knowaboutcse.co.uk is not only giving young people advice on what to watch out for but also helping parents understand the risks and more importantly how to spot and deal with them.”

Speaking about the report, Ms Longfield said:

“The internet is an incredible force for good, but it is wholly irresponsible to let children roam in a world for which they are ill-prepared, which is subject to limited regulation and which is controlled by a small number of powerful organisations.

“It is critical that children are educated better so that they can enjoy the opportunities provided by the internet whilst minimising the well-known risks. It is also vital that children understand what they agree to when joining social media platforms, that their privacy is better protected, and they can have content posted about them removed quickly should they wish to.”

The Growing Up Digital report recommended that:

  • Children should study “digital citizenship” to learn about their rights and responsibilities online, so they are prepared for online activities
  • Social media companies should rewrite their “impenetrable” terms and conditions in far simpler language so children know what they are agreeing to
  • Ministers should create a “digital ombudsman” to mediate for children seeking the removal of content

The full report can be viewed at www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publications/growing-digital

Young people and their parents can find out more about staying safe online at www.knowaboutcse.co.uk