NSPCC and O2 online safety workshop at Southwick school aimed at keeping children safe

Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham

I joined a group of parents at Eastbrook Primary Academy last Friday for an online safety workshop organised jointly by the NSPCC and O2. It was both informative and alarming and many concerned parents came away fired up to do more to find out what their children are up to online.

The internet is a fantastic resource but it is also a potentially dangerous place for impressionable, peer pressured youngsters. The numbers of young children communicating with complete strangers who turn out to be abusers posing as youngsters is particularly frightening and I have seen the results of what they are capable of doing on visits to the National Crime Agency. Many are particularly adept at using technology to disguise their exploits.

Many parents swapped horror stories about their own children including one mum whose son had run up a bill of £3,000 accessing freely available apps linked to his parent’s credit cards.

The NSPCC offers a really good advice service for parents worried about what their children are accessing and also the Net Aware app. Well done to O2 for promoting this service, which frankly all the mobile and social media companies should be doing, so every school can run similar workshops.

Last week West Sussex and Worthing Borough Council leaders Louise Goldsmith and Dan Humphreys joined Peter Bottomley and I for a meeting with roads’ minister Jesse Norman and Highways England about the A27.

The lack of any news is a reflection of how problematic online options are rather than any lack of will to crack this one and I share everyone’s frustration at the slow progress. Highways England reiterated the favoured bypass option is not viable as it would have to be tunnelled through the National Park.

Based on estimates recently published it would cost £1.3billion for the tunnel proposed to circumvent Stonehenge and the Lancing to Worthing stretch would need to be twice as long, catapulting it into a completely different and, alas, uneconomic cost level.

We expect much of our police and in too many cases they have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us, as we were starkly reminded by the tragic death of PC Keith Palmer outside Parliament last year.

I was pleased therefore to attend a reception at the Commons to promote a new police memorial to commemorate all those officers who have fallen. The government contributed £1million but further funding is still being collected.

In the year we commemorate the end of the First World War, when so many in military uniform gave their lives, we should equally pay tribute to those police who have given their lives to protect us.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk

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