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Criminal Law (Child Grooming) Bill 2014

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Bills\Criminal Law (Child Grooming) Bill 2014\Second Stage

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Criminal Law (Child Grooming) Bill 2014

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Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe)

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Snippet Contents:

On behalf of the Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, who regrets that she is unable to attend today, I thank Deputy Corcoran Kennedy for bringing forward this Bill and raising this very important issue. Modern information and communications technology, in particular the Internet, offers all of us, including children, great opportunities. However, there are also risks and children can be exposed to inappropriate behaviour online. Educating children and their parents on Internet safety is the most effective way of recognising and avoiding this type of behaviour.
The office of Internet safety in the Department of Justice and Equality co-ordinates the EU safer Internet project in Ireland. This is a consortium of industry, education, child welfare and government partners which acts as a safer Internet centre in Ireland. The project promotes the safer use of electronic media and enhances the protection of children online. The office of Internet safety also provides information for both children and parents on safer Internet use. Understanding the risks and knowing how to avoid them is the best form of protection for all Internet users and children in particular.
None the less, children do make contact with people online whom they do not know. A 2012 project by EU Kids Online, funded by the EU and undertaken by the London School of Economics, surveyed more than 25,000 children across 25 countries. Although by no means affecting a majority of users, the statistics from that report and a subsequent update in 2014 show that online risks affect a significant minority of children. These would include exposure to sexual messaging and imagery. The Minister for Justice and Equality is bringing forward a number of proposals to target such risks. While sharing the aim of this Bill, these proposals deal with specific types of behaviour and actions which would fall under the category of child grooming. Where a child is identified by a potential abuser, a process of communicating with the child can begin. To a child, this conduct may be innocuous but to a reasonable person it may give cause for concern that a meeting with a child would be for a sexual purpose.