Sophie Wessex issues rallying cry as she voices concerns about children’s online safety | royal | News

Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex arrive at St George’s Chapel

Sophie spoke of the “perfect storm of risk” for children who have access to the internet created by the Covid pandemic. In an impassioned article she wrote, she admitted to understanding that as a mother of two teenagers, children are tied to the online world and need to be able to enjoy some degree of independence and have fun.

But she also urged educators, caregivers and parents to familiarize themselves with device and web safety features amid a startling rise in cyberbullying and online abuse.

Embracing a campaign for child online safety launched by the Mirror, Sophie wrote: “Today’s children and young people are incredibly tech-savvy, and for them there is no difference between their lives online and offline.

“But the online world remains a Wild West, and the reality is that there are few spaces where children can truly explore safely.

“From abusers using platforms to target, groom and exploit children, to young people seeing harmful content or being cyberbullied, online experiences can and do have devastating consequences on the lives of young people.

Sophie spoke about the importance of keeping children safe when browsing online (Image: GETTY)

sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

The Queen passed on Sophie the patronage of the NSPCC (Image: GETTY)

“The pandemic has created a perfect storm of risk, leaving children exposed to abusers who target those who might feel alone and isolated.”

Sophie, Patron of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), then referred to an analysis conducted by the organization, stating that “more than 100,000 crimes of child abuse images have been recorded in the UK by the police since 2017”.

Data shared by his patronage also shows that the number of online grooming cases has jumped 70% in the past three years, with 5,441 child sexual communication offenses recorded between April 2020 and March 2021.

In a rallying cry to politicians, parents, tech executives and investigators, the Countess said “we must realize that we all have an important role to play in preventing and detecting these unthinkable crimes”.

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sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

Sophie became a patron of the NSPCC in 2016 (Image: GETTY)

After saying child safety online should become “a national priority”, Sophie urged maintaining an open dialogue with children who use the web.

She said: “It’s important to note that, whatever their age, we should talk to our children about their experiences online, just as we do about their experiences offline.

“You don’t have to be an expert, but help them recognize harmful behavior and show them how they can use reporting tools.

“Let them know that if they’re worried about anything online they can talk to you, or maybe find a trusted family member or friend if they feel they can’t. open up to you.

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sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

Sophie urged educators, carers and parents to get to grips with the online world (Image: GETTY)

sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

Sophie jokes with her daughter Lady Louise (Image: GETTY)

“And, if in doubt, remember that the NSPCC is always there for you and children can always contact Childline for help.”

Sophie received NSPCC patronage directly from the Queen in 2016 and has since worked closely with the charity.

Speaking about the opportunity given to her by the monarch, the Countess told Good Housekeeping in 2020: “It was the first patronage Her Majesty has asked me to take and I accepted the honor immediately.

“The NSPCC is one of the UK’s best known and most respected children’s charities and its name has been familiar to me for as long as I can remember.

sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

Sophie and Prince Edward married in 1999 (Picture: EXPRESS)

“I’m proud to be able to support the work being done to prevent child abuse and neglect, and support those who don’t have adults to protect them.”

In the past, Sophie had also quickly mentioned her daughter’s relationship with social networks.

Lady Louise Windsor, the Countess said, is “very private” and has avoided social media.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live last summer, Sophie said Louise’s absence from social media platforms was “purely” due to the teenager’s choice.

sophie wessex news online safety issue nspcc lady louise social media

Lady Louise turned 18 in November (Image: GETTY)

Prince Edward’s wife said: “I wouldn’t deny her getting into it. But she’s not really interested in it.

“There are a few platforms where she talks to her friends.

“But that’s basically it. She doesn’t say anything about herself at all.

“She’s very private. Her eyes are pretty wide open.”

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