Monday 14 October 2019

Teenage girl considered suicide after 'revenge porn' photos were shared


Worried teenager girl looking at her smart phone. Stock image
Worried teenager girl looking at her smart phone. Stock image
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A teenager contemplated suicide after a former boyfriend to whom she sent intimate images went on to share them with others without her permission.

TDs and senators will be told how the girl told Childline about her shocking ordeal as the Oireachtas Justice Committee considers new laws aimed at cracking down on so-called 'revenge porn'.

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The girl's case is to be outlined by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), which welcomes the bill first put forward by Labour leader Brendan Howlin.

Proposed new offences that have been adopted by the Government include the taking and distributing of intimate images without consent, online harassment and so-called 'up-skirting'.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath

READ MORE: Revenge porn law should be even tougher - victim

ISPCC chief executive John Church will tell TDs and senators how online safety is an integral part of the charity's work and it is "acutely aware of the long-term and devastating consequences... cyber-bullying can have on children".

Mr Church's statement says that children and young people lack the maturity of adults, can be impulsive, and may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions online. He will say that the ISPCC does not advocate the criminalisation of under-18s and instead "it is essential they are educated and empowered to act differently in future".

READ MORE: Deputy principal 'a victim of revenge porn' after naked images circulated by students

Entry into the Garda Youth Diversion Programme is suggested as a "more appropriate response".

Mr Church's statement says online safety education in schools is a "key component in preventing activities occurring in the first instance".

A teenager contemplated suicide after she sent images to a former boyfriend who went on to share them with others without her permission. Stock Image: PA
A teenager contemplated suicide after she sent images to a former boyfriend who went on to share them with others without her permission. Stock Image: PA

A statement by gardaí to the committee says children are increasingly sharing "self-taken imagery where they send nude and/or sexually explicit personal photographs of each other to other members of a chat group" on social media platforms.

READ MORE: Art student charged with revenge porn after submitting photo of topless ex-boyfriend for degree

It says this has given rise to a form of bullying.

The Garda statement also warns of an "added danger" where images are circulated beyond the confines of friends to third parties "who may use them as a trap to engage with a child or set up 'fake profiles' using the images as bait".

READ MORE: Explainer: How Irish 'revenge porn' case may change how social media giants operate

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland's statement says its clients "of all ages" are reporting "more and more forms of online sexual harassment" and that it amounts to "sexual violence".

It says effective regulation "via the criminal justice system and otherwise" has not kept pace with development in online technology.

Irish Independent

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