Safer Internet Day 2021
This article reflects the authors own views and not that of MLI.
Safer Internet Day 2021 took place on Tuesday, February 9th. The theme for the celebration was “Together for a Better Internet”, a day to encourage people to join together to make the internet a safer and better place for all, and especially for children and young people. Safer Internet Day is an annual event organised by the Insafe / INHOPE network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs), with the support of the European Commission. Webwise, the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre, is responsible for the promotion and coordination of Safer Internet day in Ireland. In its 18th year, Safer Internet Day has become a key date in the online safety calendar and is marked in approximately 170 countries around the world.
In Ireland thousands of supporters participated in Safer Internet Day, taking positive actions to promote online safety and digital citizenship, and to raise awareness of key topics and issues. The challenges faced this year meant that the events and activities looked a little different, but the continued enthusiasm and commitment of Safer Internet Day supporters ensured that celebrations were as meaningful and vibrant as ever.
Safer Internet Day 2021 saw Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, sign the commencement order for the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill (Coco’s Law). Young people led the way in their school communities by hosting webinars and lessons, making videos, creating posters and running online campaigns. Many schools continued their activities for Safer Internet Day across a whole week. Parents engaged with Safer Internet Day by attending online safety webinars to help them to empower healthy online behaviour in children and young people.
Activity around Ireland for Safer Internet Day 2021
Commencement of Coco’s Law
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, marked Safer Internet Day by commencing Coco’s Law - the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act.
Coco’s Law creates two new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images:
· the first offence deals with the distribution or publication of intimate images without consent and with intent to cause harm. The penalties applicable can be an unlimited fine and/or 7 years imprisonment
· the second offence deals with the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent even if there is no specific intent to cause harm. This offence will carry a maximum penalty of a €5,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment.
The update also broadens the scope of the existing offence of harassment.
· There is also a third new offence that has been introduced under the 2020 Act which is also appropriate to note. S.4 of the Act creates an offence of “Distributing, publishing or sending threatening or grossly offensive communication”
· This offence will cover situations where the perpetrator distributes or publishes a threat or grossly offensive communications to the victim or about the victim and is likely to be used to address cyberbullying. It can cover once-off threatening or grossly offensive communications.
#BeKindOnline Webinar Series
To mark Safer Internet Day, the Irish Safer Internet Centre hosted the #BeKindOnline Webinar Series. This series offered free webinars for parents and teachers to empower healthier online behaviour in children and young people.
The webinar series was officially launched on Safer Internet Day by Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, and was hosted online by the Department of Justice.
Chaired by Professor Brian O’Neill (member of the National Advisory Council for Online Safety) the Safer Internet Day launch also included a panel discussion with the Irish Safer Internet Centre partners, including Chief Executive of ISPCC Childline, John Church; CEO of the National Parents Council Primary, Áine Lynch; Project Officer of Webwise (PDST Technology in Education), Jane McGarrigle; and Chief Executive of Hotline.ie, Ana Niculesc.
You can watch the recordings of the #BeKindOnline Webinar Series here.
The #BeKindOnline Webinar series was hosted by the Irish Safer Internet Centre (SIC).
The Irish SIC is a partnership of four leading organisations with a mission to make the Internet a better place for children and young people, under the coordination of Cybercrime, Department of Justice.
The programme partners include:
- Awareness and Education: Webwise (PDST Technology in Education)
- Helplines: ISPCC Childline and the National Parents Council Primary
- Hotline: Hotline.ie
Schools Celebrate Safer Internet Day
Hundreds of primary and post-primary schools across Ireland ran activities and events to mark Safer Internet Day 2021. The wide-ranging initiatives included online wellbeing webinars, positivity campaigns for online image, motivational tips for distance learning, digital footprint lessons, online safety talks for parents, and workshops to address topics such as online harassment, privacy and image sharing.
In the weeks leading up to Safer Internet Day, 100 students from across Ireland were engaged in the online peer-led SID Ambassador Youth Training Programme. The aim of the training programme is to provide the students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to go back to their own schools/communities and lead an online safety campaign/initiative for Safer Internet Day. This programme is also supported by 35 members of the Webwise Youth Advisory panel, who act as peer mentors to the Ambassadors over the course of the programme. This year the training programme focused on helping students managing their online wellbeing and the event allowed students to reflect on learnings over the course of the programme.
To see learn more about Safer Internet Day visit.