The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has called for the introduction of a ‘panic button’ for children using social networking sites such as Facebook.
The proposed ‘safety button’ application would allow young users to report worrying or inappropriate behavior to child protection authorities.
In a report published on Thursday, the ISPCC said that it has been promoting the measure for several years, and that a similar system is currently operational in the UK.
The report acknowledged that “there can be risks involved in the use of new technologies” and that the introduction of new measures was “vital” to ensuring the safety of Irish children.
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A new study commissioned by the ISPCC involving over 18,000 young people from around Ireland revealed that one in six teens has met, in person, with somebody they met over the Internet.
The report also found that children are spending large amounts of time in their bedrooms using the Internet without supervision.
“To hear that so many young people, despite the threats lurking online, are spending hours in their bedrooms, unsupervised, giving out personal information and in some cases organizing to meet up with strangers is absolutely horrific,” said ISPCC CEO, Ashley Balbirnie.
“The figures clearly show that young people are not taking necessary and available safety precautions while online and leaving themselves open to some extremely dangerous situations.”
In addition to the new ‘panic button,' the organization also called for enhanced online abuse legislation, and greater parental vigilance in the Internet use of children.