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Stormont's active e-forum role to protect children online

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will have an "active role" in a new forum aimed at tackling safety on the internet, the Assembly has heard.

Junior minister Jennifer McCann said the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister would help co-ordinate the e-forum being spearheaded by the Safeguarding Board. In a debate on Safer Internet Day, the parties urged the Executive and Westminster to put the issue into the school curriculum.

Peter Weir of the DUP, which brought the motion, said three sources of concern were the extent to which young people have access to inappropriate imagery through pornography; child sexual abuse and grooming, and online bullying.

Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend said: "We have also seen the negative influence that peer pressure can have over online behaviour as our young people become young adults, with the recent Neknominate drinking game craze."

The SDLP's Sean Rogers said: "Schools must pursue a robust programme for young people on safe internet use."

Alliance's Chris Lyttle argued: "We need to empower our parents, children and young people to remain safe in a digital world."

Ms McCann said: "The Safeguarding Board is spearheading the forum, but OFMDFM will be playing an active role in it. We are keen to use that and the existing children's champions. I emphasise that the Safeguarding Board will have the spearheading role."

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