Calls to tackle cyberbullying following teen suicide

Online bullies must be made to see consequences of their actions, says MP for area in which teenager took own life

Emma Seith

Calls to tackle cyberbullying after teen suicide

Prime minister Theresa May has been called upon to do more to tackle cyberbullying following the suicide of a Scottish teenager who killed himself after receiving “cruel online threats and bullying”.

Paul Masterton, Conservative MP for East Renfrewshire, raised the issue of the tragic death in October of Ben McKenzie, a 13-year-old pupil at Eastwood High School, during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier today, as he called on the government to do more to tackle cyberbullying.

He said measures were not only necessary to support the victims of online abuse, but also to help bullies to understand the consequences of their actions.

No family, he added, should have to face the prospect of spending Christmas without their child due to a suicide.

Mr Masterton said: “A few weeks ago, Ben McKenzie from Neilston, a pupil at Eastwood High School, took his own life, having been the victim of cruel online threats and bullying on social media and his mobile phone; he was just 13 years old.

“Nearly £10,000 has been raised in his memory for Beautiful Inside and Out, a Scottish charity that supports the families of victims of child suicide. Can the prime minister set out what this government is going to do to tackle cyberbullying, not just to support and empower victims, but to deter and prevent children who might be engaging in these acts without realising the consequences they can have? Because no family should be enduring a Christmas without their child due to suicide.”

In response, Ms May said he had raised an “extremely serious issue” that needed to be tackled by working with internet companies, as well as supporting schools to recognise the problem and deal with it.

She continued: “Our consultation last year on internet safety showed that despite a range of voluntary initiatives and good work by a range of charities – I commend the work of the Scottish charity Beautiful Inside and Out and the amount of money that has been raised – this remains a serious issue for millions of people. I know the Scottish government have been addressing this with their Respect for All approach, and we have funded the UK Safer Internet Centre, which is providing guidance for schools. But we should all be taking this issue seriously and the government will continue to work on this."

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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