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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Cyber-bullying should be a crime says rapporteur on child protection

The child protection report also recommends guardianship should apply to civil partnerships.

Image: Eamonn Farrell via Photocall Ireland

MAKING CYBER-BULLYING A crime, guardianship for same-sex couples in civil marriages and improved co-operation between cross-border authorities are three of the key recommendations that were put to the Government today.

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the special rapporteur on child protection, presented his sixth report to the Oireachtas today, with a focus on numerous steps to protect children.

The report recommends that cyber-bullying, which has been linked to a number of high-profile deaths in recent years, should be made a crime.

In the report,  Shannon says that the Irish legal system has been ‘taken unawares’ by the rise in online bullying.

“Cyber-bullying has almost overnight created a readily accessible forum for bullies to target children with little or no regulation or sanction.

Whilst there are some legislative provisions in being that might be interpreted in such a manner as to tackle this growing problem, a focused response is required.

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay welcomed the report, saying that there was much work to be done, but the report offered a good starting point.

“We have made significant progress in recent years but we still have a long way to go before we can say that we’ve really put children at the centre of the laws and policies that affect their lives.”

Finlay also welcomed the guardianship proposal, which he said “ensure that guardianship, custody and access arrangements are child centred and based on the best interests of the children concerned”.

Under the proposal, same-sex couples who enter into a civil partnership would be given the same legal recognition, with Shannon saying the current law ‘ignores reality’.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs confirmed that Shannon is to be invited to remain in his role for another three years.

Poll: Should cyberbullying be classed as a crime?

Read: Moving inmates from St Pat’s to adult prison “won’t make one iota of difference”

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