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'It's the Wild West': Brianna Ghey's mum calls for social media ban for under-16s to prevent similar tragedies
4 February 2024, 23:02 | Updated: 4 February 2024, 23:11
Murdered teen Brianna Ghey's mum has called for social media to be banned for under-16s - as she says the internet is 'The Wild West'.
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Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were both 15 when they killed Brianna, 16, with a hunting knife after luring her to Linear Park, Culcheth, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, on February 11 last year.
Jenkinson had watched videos of torture and murder online.
Speaking on the BBC's Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Esther Ghey said: "We'd like a law introduced so that there are mobile phones that are only suitable for under-16s.
"So if you're over 16, you can have an adult phone, but then under the age of 16, you can have a children's phone, which will not have all of the social media apps that are out there now.
"Also to have software that is automatically downloaded on the parents' phone which links to the children's phone, that can highlight key words.
"So if a child is searching the kind of words that Scarlett and Eddie were searching, it will then flag up on the parent's phone."
She said if the searches her daughter's killers had made had been flagged, their parents would have been "able to get some kind of help".
Ms Ghey said her transgender daughter had accessed pro-anorexia and self-harm material online and been "very protective" over her phone, which had caused arguments.
"If she couldn't have accessed the sites, she wouldn't have suffered as much," she said.
Describing the internet as the "Wild West", she said the focus of technology had been on making money rather than "how we protect people or how we can necessarily benefit society".
'She was so anxious and scared.'— LBC (@LBC) February 3, 2024
Legal researcher Jess O'Thomson discusses with Natasha Devon why someone like Brianna Ghey would've felt 'so vulnerable' due to the ostracisation of the Transgender community. pic.twitter.com/hLfheA7ZG2
Speaking about Brianna, Ms Ghey said: "She was absolutely full of life.
"She was such a character, she was really, really outgoing.
"She just, she loved attention. She loved to be on TikTok, she loved having all of the likes that she used to receive and she was the life and soul of the party really.
"Everyone who knew Brianna and anybody who ever met Brianna, would never forget her."
Saying she feels the prison sentences handed to Brianna's killers are correct, Ms Ghey added that she cannot forgive them.
She said: "I don't carry any hate for either of them because hate is such a harmful emotion to the person that's holding that.
"With regards to forgiving them, I think that no, not really."
Ms Ghey said she is willing to meet the mother of Jenkinson, who she described as looking "completely broken" and is enduring an "absolutely horrific time".
She said: "I also want her to know that I don't blame her for what her child's done."
Ms Ghey added she feels like she failed Brianna. She said: "I think as a parent I am all Brianna had, I was the one who was supposed to look after her. Maybe if I had done things differently she would still be here."
Responding to Ms Ghey's proposals, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the recently passed Online Safety Act had "tools" to tackle the issues raised, including age verification checks for inappropriate material.
She said: "This is a massive piece of legislation, probably quite a leading position that we've taken in really making sure that the platforms are accountable for proper age verification, for inappropriate things being unavailable and inappropriate things, most importantly, not being there.
"What we're looking to do is to go one step further and ban the use of mobile phones in schools."