Mother of Assaulted Autistic Girl Urges Stricter Regulations on Social Media Platforms

 Mother of Assaulted Autistic Girl Urges Stricter Regulations on Social Media Platforms

(Image: DAILY RECORD)

The mother of an autistic girl who was beaten unconscious in a park is calling for stricter regulation on social media platforms to prevent the sharing of violent content. Abbie Jarvis, only 12 at the time, was savagely attacked by other children in Glasgow in October 2021. The disturbing incident was recorded and widely disseminated on social media, with clips of the assault still circulating on platforms like Instagram.

Angela Jarvis, Abbie’s mother, age 44, has thrown her support behind new proposals from media regulator Ofcom which aims to compel social media companies to cease the dissemination of harmful content, especially to children. The proposed Children’s Safety Code of Practice would require social media sites to significantly reduce the risk of children encountering violent, hateful, or abusive material, including instances of online bullying.

Angela expressed her relief and approval of Ofcom’s initiative, emphasizing the urgent need for protective measures for children. She highlighted the real and present dangers such trends pose, including an increase in youth suicides and deaths linked to online content. According to her, exposure to such violence only escalates the problems, leading to desensitization among young users, and potentially fostering a culture of violence as normalized behavior, told the¬†Daily Record.

Angela believes that the sharing of violent content is often motivated by the pursuit of online popularity and likes. She sees the new guidelines as a potential deterrent that could discourage the sharing of violent videos and help victims like her daughter move past their traumatic experiences. She stressed the negative psychological impact on victims who, through the continued online presence of these videos, are forced to relive their trauma repeatedly.

Furthermore, Angela pointed out that such a shift in policy could have broad societal benefits. By reducing the visibility of violence, social media could help create an environment where young people are less inclined to engage with or emulate such behavior. This could lead to a decrease in the normalization of violence and potentially transform how young individuals interact with each other online.

Ofcom’s guidelines, which are set to be finalized by the summer of 2025, also include measures against content promoting dangerous challenges, suicide, eating disorders, and explicit material. These regulations will provide over 40 specific actions for technology companies to implement, including stringent age verification processes to control the accessibility of content by minors.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, echoed the sentiment that while online environments should be enjoyable for children, their safety cannot be compromised. She acknowledged the widespread concern among parents regarding online safety and emphasized the need for significant change. Once these guidelines are assessed by social media firms and search engines, they will have three months to draft and execute plans to comply with the mandates of the Online Safety Act, aiming to create a safer online environment for all children.

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