Prince William says online safety for children needs to be a prerequisite

Prince William, the Prince of Wales, has said that online safety for children “needs to be a prerequisite.” His statement comes after a coroner ruled social media contributed to the death of Molly Russell in 2017.

Senior coroner Andrew Walker said material viewed by the teenager on sites including Instagram and Pinterest were “not safe” and “should not have been available for a 14-year-old child to see.”

Prince William took to Twitter on Thursday evening, writing that “no parent should ever have to endure” what Molly’s parents have gone through.

He went on: “They have been so incredibly brave. Online safety for our children and young people needs to be a prerequisite, not an afterthought.”

In November 2019, Prince William met with Molly’s father Ian Russell when he asked him: “Do you think companies like Instagram are doing enough?”

Mr Russel responded: “My thoughts on Instagram are, we're grateful that they're doing something but I think they're only really inching along the road, and they need to do a lot more.”

Mr Russell has since also disclosed that William had been in touch with the family to offer his support.

As the inquest into Molly's death concluded, coroner Andrew Walker determined that it would not be "safe" to rule Molly’s cause of death as suicide.

Mr Walker said the teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression and the negative effects of online content”.

At North London Coroner’s Court on Friday he said: “At the time that these sites were viewed by Molly, some of these sites were not safe as they allowed access to adult content that should not have been available for a 14-year-old child to see.

Prince William has aimed to tackle mental health struggles through the Heads Together campaign, which encourages the nation to talk about their psychological problems.

In February 2018, during a trip to Ark Burlington Danes Academy in White City, he warned pupils about the online pressures young women face and the “fakeness” of the cyber world.

Replying to the Prince’s tweet many thanked him for speaking up about such an important issue facing children today.

“Always great to highlight this issue with the platform you have, giving it even more exposure. Thank you,” wrote one Twitter user.

Another commented: “You are absolutely right. The strength and dignity shown by Ian Russell should be applauded. Online platforms must play their part in protecting users.

“They have the ability to moderate their platforms so much more proactively. The current position must not continue.”

Prince William has previously spoken up about his own mental health, including how he manages his own.

In 2021,he made a rare statementwhile launching a one-off podcast for charity, in which he revealed that walking is a "key part" of maintaining his mental wellbeing.


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