Letters to the Editor

Important for parents to know what children are doing online

The school summer holidays have well and truly started and inevitably children will have a great deal of free time on their hands. Increasingly, children spend much of this free time exploring the online world. Every parent knows that keeping their children safe online can be a daunting and challenging task and it’s even more important over the summer when they have eight long weeks to fill.

Without doubt, the Internet is a brilliant and invaluable resource for a child’s development. But for many children, the online world is as immediate and real as the one offline and it is one which also contains real risks.  

 With the rising use of smart phones and tablets, more young people are exploring the online world behind closed doors, making it ever more difficult for parents to know what their children are doing.

Viewing inappropriate content is a clear risk while the rise in the ‘selfie’ culture and use of social media could also be fuelling the problem with young people putting themselves at greater risk of sexual exploitation and grooming by online predators.

The PSNI recorded 82 offences of adults sexually communicating with a child last year (2017/18) which is an increase on the previous year and demonstrating the scale of potential grooming in today’s online world.

These findings show that it is more important than ever for parents to know what their children are doing online and that it is vital that they educate themselves about the world their children are inhabiting. Parents must have open and honest conversations to enable children to tell them if they are worried about anything they’ve been involved in.

The NSPCC’s Share Aware page can help facilitate these discussions so parents can ensure their child knows they can talk about anything that is worrying them online. Our  Net Aware tool can also give parents information and advice on the most popular apps used by children, giving them the information they need to start those important conversations. And our dedicated NSPCC/O2 helpline is available on 0808 800 5002.

Children can also contact Childline online or over the phone on 0800 1111 at any time.

The earlier parents start to talk to their children, the better. A series of simple conversations can be all it takes to make a huge difference in keeping their child safe when exploring the online world. 

NEIL ANDERSON
Head of NSPCC in Northern Ireland

 

Is equality too much to expect from impartial police force?

Recently I heard a member of the SDLP regale us of how he climbed a ladder in the wee hours of the morning to remove republican paramilitary paraphernalia flying adjacent to the Royal Victoria Hospital and at a nearby local interface .

He stressed how important it is to live, work and socialise in a neutral, welcoming environment and was praised by much of the media for his endeavours.

Now fast forward a few weeks to Moygashel in Co Tyrone where a member of the local community who, perhaps following the SDLP member’s lead, tried to remove
loyalist paramilitary paraphernalia remembering UVF killer Wesley Somerville from a shared space in the town.

He wasn’t lauded by the media, interviewed by the press, given space on the radio but instead he was arrested by the police and removed from the area for a breach of the peace. 

So what do these double standards show us? That some regalia is more equal than others? That the removal of republican emblems is more than acceptable but interfering with pro-state loyalist emblems will not be tolerated? 

Is this double standards by the police  or the power of one police officer to decide what and who he decides to prosecute?

Perhaps the PSNI should ponder on this when asking why nationalists and Catholics are not joining their militia and indeed have left in their droves.

Is equality and justice too much to expect from our impartial police force?

FRA HUGHES
Belfast BT15

 

Republicans not running scared

Mr O’Fiach (June 29) considers that an ‘in/out’ border poll will somehow give direction to parties ‘running scared’ from same.

This amid the demographic breakdown of how voters in the six counties might plump – the chaos of Brexit and the slant that the 26 counties may put on a border poll.

Now such a poll might be a wake-up call to unionist/nationalist/republican alike. On that basis it has merit.

On the other hand it has a potential to push folk into corners. What does that achieve? Republicans today are firmly (as I see it) focussed on inclusivity and parity of esteem. Not cornering people.

I have some sympathy with Mr Mitchel McLaughlin’s idea that the census could include a question about unification. I really would suggest to Mr O’Fiach that we are in a maelstrom thanks to Brexit. Any notion about border polls in this climate is fatuous – especially of the yes/no type.

I can’t speak for the DUP but republicans, as I see it, are not “running scared” of anyone. They are working with a given – unlike those who preach from their corner.

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

 

Saddened Pope is not coming north

The pope is coming to Dublin again. He is not coming north to the six counties. I know some Catholics who are disappointed he is not coming north. The people who should be in the front row in Dublin should be the former primary school children of Holy Cross primary school, who were at the school in 2001. Those former students would be now aged between 22 to 28 years. Also the congregation of the Catholic Church at Harryville outside Ballymena, who were insulted going to their Saturday night Mass, by loyalists. 

SEAMUS PAUL DINSMORE
Warrenpoint, Co Down

 

Was Manus on vacation?

In the Sinn Féin utopia of Manus McDaid (July 6) it is apparently now cowardly to defend the unborn.
So much for the equality of the ‘New Ireland’.

Perhaps Manus has been on vacation recently, otherwise he would be aware Sinn Féin have been unashamedly well documented as the leading abortionist party in Ireland.

As for Sinn Féin double standards and double speak, I could easily fill all the pages of The Irish News for a full week with the evidence.

If we can’t control it, we will wreck it, and if you allow us to control it you will do as we dictate, no questions asked, that is Sinn Féin policy in a nutshell.

LAURENCE O'NEILL
Martinstown, Co Antrim

 

UK is real democracy

Well done to Boris Johnson and David Davis for quitting rather than betray the will of the overall electorate who took part in their referendum.
Not for the British to ask for a ‘second go’ to ‘get it right’.

The UK is a real democracy which respects its people, including Northern Ireland, which voted as part of the whole.

ROBERT SULLIVAN
Bantry, Co Cork

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