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O'Connor, Mary Mitchell

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Criminal Law (Child Grooming) Bill 2014

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

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Criminal Law (Child Grooming) Bill 2014

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Second Stage [Private Members]

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Senator


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Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor

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Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor

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Mary Mitchell O'Connor

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Snippet Contents:

As a mother, a daughter and a former school principal, I wholeheartedly welcome this Bill. However, I am saddened that this is the reality we live in, a reality in which we have to protect our innocent children from sexual exploitation and depraved individuals. This Bill responds to the concerns not only of the United Nations committee but of Irish parents who need to be sure in the knowledge that we are doing our utmost to protect their children from sexual exploitation.
I am a strong advocate for children's rights and against cyberbullying. Recently, I chaired an online national cyberbullying conference. I have seen how the Internet has become a dark place, with bullies, predators and the depraved people who prey on innocent children. Head 8 of the criminal justice (sexual offences) Bill 2014 addresses two particular activities. The first relates to a person who, particularly via the Internet, directly contacts a child to facilitate the sexual exploitation of that child. A second proposed offence relates to sending sexually explicit material to a child using communications technology. These offences will target the use of modern technologies for the purpose of sexually grooming a child, and I strongly welcome the measures.
Parents need to be vigilant at all times. Online activity of their children needs to be monitored. Parents should make no mistake about it: there are depraved individuals surfing the Internet and social media with the intent of corrupting and soliciting their children to be involved in sexually depraved acts. I encourage parents to monitor their children's online behaviour at all times. No responsible parent would allow her child to wander down O'Connell Street or a street in any city without supervision. Yet parents seem to believe it is safe for children to surf the Internet and online chat rooms.
I have had occasion in the recent past to visit a school where second year students, aged 14, were being advised about the dangers of cyberbullying. During the course of the class a number of boys reported that they had visited sites where men were attempting to entice them to meet. The boys told me that they responded to the men for the craic because they were bored. Parents should realise that this is what is happening in their homes. I advise that parents cannot be careful enough. It is their responsibility to know what is happening in their homes. Legislators, politicians and police have a responsibility, but it is also incumbent on parents to ensure their children's safety.
I commend my hard-working colleague and friend, Deputy Corcoran Kennedy, on ensuring that this legislation is moved forward.