Teen death prompts web safety alert

Celebrity TV Presenter Donna Air and David Simpson MP show their support for the Care2Save website that raises money for hospice and palliative care in the UK.
Celebrity TV Presenter Donna Air and David Simpson MP show their support for the Care2Save website that raises money for hospice and palliative care in the UK.

Local teenagers have been urged to speak out if they feel in any way intimidated or distressed online.

The plea came from Upper Bann MP David Simpson in the wake of the death of 17-year-old Ronan Hughes, from Coalisland, who took his own life after being blackmailed by foreign criminals online.

In the past Mr Simpson has campaigned on internet safety issues, and vowed to raise the issue of cyber-bullying at ‘the highest levels of UK Government’ following the distress caused by a noxious Facebook page targeting Banbridge teenagers which has appeared a number of times since August 2014.

At the time, the mother of one of the teens targeted on the page spoke to the Leader of the devastation it caused to her daughter and family.

Mr Simpson said: “Like many across our province, we were rocked by the devastating news of young Ronan Hughes who died through such tragic circumstances.

“In recent years we have seen the growing link between social media, self-harm and suicide.

“There is an increasing level of reliability on social media and it is vital that those with responsibility over young people take action now to combat the scourge of cyber-bullying.”

Along with raising the issue in Westminster, Mr Simpson also helps raise awareness in local schools.

“I continue to work closely with a number of schools in their efforts to deal with this issue. I look forward to meeting with the hierarchy of Facebook (London) in the coming months to build a better understanding of how young people can be protected from these trolls.

“The advice to young people remains – if you feel in any way intimidated online, speak to a parent or guardian and do not sit back and allow these trolls to take advantage.”