Killarney man and Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly is behind a new campaign to keep children safe online.

Following a campaign by Mr Kelly, new EU measures to prevent online bullying of young people has been named as a political priority by the European Parliament’s largest grouping, the European People’s Party (EPP).

A policy paper launched by the EPP Group insists that the forthcoming EU strategy must keep children safe, protect their rights, guarantee their basic needs are met and empower them to thrive in life ahead of European Commission proposals due tomorrow (Wednesday).

“My EPP colleagues and I insist that the new EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child should take the lessons learned due to the rise of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic into account. The strategy needs to include provision for targeting the root cause of online bullying, as well as equipping young people with the knowledge and tools to effectively respond if they experience cyberbullying,” Mr Kelly said.

“Tragically, children in the EU are still suffering physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence. We cannot tolerate any violence against children and given the increasing time young people spend online, we need to seriously address the dangers the Internet poses. That includes preventing and eliminating child sexual abuse including the detection of child sexual abuse material online, apprehending the perpetrators and providing help and support for victims. These are absolute priorities.”

He added that the past months have accelerated the already existing trend shifting children’s activities to an online reality.

“It is important to provide a high-quality and inclusive education for all children in Europe. Digital literacy is key in order for children to navigate the Internet as safely as possible. This includes ensuring equal access to the digital tools of remote learning. No child should be left behind.”