A campaigning teenager from Johnstone is calling on the Westminster Government to make sure the Online Safety Bill remains a priority under the next Conservative leader.

Chantelle, 17 is a volunteer member of the Young People’s Board for Change (YPBC) with UK-wide child protection charity, the NSPCC.

The inspiring young woman is also encouraging members of the public to write to their MP to ask them to support the NSPCC’s Wild West Campaign which calls on the Government to make the Online Safety Bill a priority and to strengthen it.

The Bill had been making its way through parliament in Westminster but has now been put back to the Autumn.

Chantelle, who attended an NSPCC organised Online Safety parliamentary reception at Westminster on 5th July, said: “I joined the NSPCC’s YPBC because it’s an incredible opportunity to be involved in making positive change for other young people across the UK.

“There are many great things about young people growing up online, including being able to communicate with others and be involved in social aspects. However, there can also be many negatives because young people can be exploited on the internet in so many ways.

“The online world is becoming more and more popular through the generations, and companies should make it a safer place for children to be at all times.

“I hope the Online Safety Bill remains a top priority for whoever replaces Boris Johnson so we can keep young people safer online.

“And we can all do our bit to make a difference, by emailing our MPs to support the Online Safety Bill and make it stronger for children.”

Photo: Chantelle, who is from Johnstone, is asking Renfrewshire residents to write to this MPs
Photo Credit: NSPCC

Chantelle joined other young members of the YPBC from across the UK at the parliamentary reception to urge the Government to ensure the Online Safety Bill is robust enough to tackle online grooming and child sexual abuse.

They all shared their own experiences of the online world and stressed the importance of a strong Online Safety Bill to MPs.

The NSPCC recently revealed there has been 2,979 offences recorded by Police Scotland of Communicating Indecently with a Child since 2017.

Analysis of Freedom of Information data from Police Scotland shows that in 2021/22 there were 636 offences of Communicating Indecently with a Child, compared with 429 in 2017/18 – a 48% rise. For victims under the age of 13, there was a 63% rise, with 369 in 2021/22 and 226 in 2017/18.

Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “Over the years campaigning for a safe internet, I have worked with parents whose children took their own lives after being bombarded with suicidal content on social media, with brave survivors of online child sexual abuse taking a stand so younger generations don’t suffer as they did and with families left shattered by harm that didn’t have to happen.

“The Online Safety Bill is fundamentally about stopping this pain and suffering from happening on an ever-increasing scale, by regulating the systems that perpetuate risk so instead of prioritising page hits, post views and profit, platforms work for the safety of our children.

“There can be no greater mission for the Government than protecting children and families across the country so I’d like to see every leadership candidate commit to their 2019 manifesto promise and deliver a robust Online Safety Bill should they become Prime Minister.”

For more information about contacting their MP, people can search ‘ask your MP to end abuse’ and ‘NSPCC’.

To find out your local MP, visit: www.theyworkforyou.com and enter your post code.

Headline image: Members of Young People’s Board for Change members (left to right) Laurita, Nirucha, Cameron, Gracie, Will and Chantelle 
Photo Credit: NSPCC